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Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality is understood to be the equal treatment of all data flows by a network, regardless of sender, recipient, location, content, service and application.

The current internet is based on this principle and allows any internet user, without significant cost, to access information, to use or offer services and applications, and to communicate. The internet’s openness to anyone and the subsequent low market entry barriers have turned the internet into a catalyst for freedom of speech, growth and innovation.

The Telekom-Control Kommission (TKK) and RTR.Telekom.Post are responsible for enforcing the net neutrality regulations. The objective is to ensure free access to the Open Internet while taking into account the fundamental rights of all internet users, the various online indermediaries and safeguarding the interests of the general public. The regulatory authorities are also to ensure that the “ecosystem” of the internet can contine to function as an engine of innovation. If you have any questions regarding net neutrality, contact us at rtr@rtr.at

The legal basis for net neutrality is formed by the Net neutrality regulation (Regulation [EU] 2015/2120, “TSM-VO”) and the accompanying regulations in the Telecommunications Act 2003 (“TKG 2003)”. In addition, the guidelines of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) are to be taken into utmost account.

On a national level, the TKK and RTR.Telekom.Post are responsible for enforcing the Net Neutrality regulation. Supervisory procedures against providers of internet access services under Art. 5 par 1 TSM-VO are the responsibility of the TKK, while information procedures under Art. 5 par 2 TSM-VO are carried out by RTR.Telekom.Post. RTR.Telekom.Post also collects this type of information on technical and commercial practices of providers of internet access services, which forms the basis for the initiation of supervisory procedures by the TKK. The central net neutrality regulations of Art. 3 TSM-VO are accompanied by the transparency requirements of Art. 4 TSM-VO. These are intended to regulate issues related to internet access service in particular and mean to enable end users to make informed decisions. The check of compliance with these transparency measures is ensured by the TKK within the function of the review of general terms and conditions. 

Net neutrality regulation BEREC Guidelines Proceedings and decisions

 

Blockings

In order to ensure net neutrality, the Net Neutrality Regulation stipulates that providers of internet access services may not block content on the internet. Exceptions to this are only permitted to a very limited extent, for example if a specific legal provision obliges blocking. For example, copyright law provides that providers of internet access services may be obliged to block structurally infringing websites. But other European regulations, such as the Consumer Authorities Cooperation Regulation, also provide for restriction measures on online content by various intermediaries (providers).

The regulatory authority is increasingly addressing the issue of blockings, especially since any blocking affects the essence of network neutrality, can affect the freedom of expression of internet users and pushes providers into an undesirable role. The aim is to identify ways and solutions that offer the greatest possible legal protection and legal certainty to all parties involved. To this end, the regulatory authority closely monitors national and European legislative activities and actively contributes to the design of measures to transpose European requirements into national law.

Based on the different legal provisions, RTR.Telekom.Post and TKK take action regarding blockings. The linked pages give an overview on current and past cases, as well as the legal basis for the blockings.

In order to ensure a high transparency, the list of blockings currently in force is being published.

Legal basis Current blockings Proceedings and decisions Open data


Zero-Rating

Zero-Rating means the transfer of data free of charge (i.e. not subtracted from the data quota influded in a tariff) for specific applications or groups of applications (chat services, music services, etc). RTR.Telekom.Post carries out ongoing monitoring of the zero-rating products available on the Austrian market in order to identify any restrictions in the freedom of choice with regard to the available services, applications or content and to be able to suspend them if necessary. Periodic analysis of these monitoring activities are published in the annual net neutrality reports.

In 2019, RTR.Telekom.Post also conducted an empirical study on the impact of zero-rating on included data volume, monthly prices and prices per included data unit of tariffs. The results support the regulatory approach of a case-by-case assessment of the (potential) impact of zero-rating.

In addition to the provisions of the Net Neutrality regulation, the openness and continuing innovation on the Internet is protected by a large number of other provisions. Some of the most important topics in this regard, the enforcement of which is also the responsibility of the TKK and RTR.Telekom.Post, are listed below.

General terms / conditions review Consumer services Roaming

 In addition to ensuring free access to the open Internet, RTR.Telekom.Post also monitors digital platforms and gatekeepers. Providers of essential services such as browsers, search engines, apps stores, operating systems and communication platforms often assume a gatekeeper position (if they have the corresponding market power) and can restrict the open Internet and its function as a driver of innovation.

Digital platforms and gatekeepers


RTR-NetTest informs users about the current service quality (including upload, download, ping, signal strength) of their Internet connection. It additionally offers the possibility to undertake certified measurements in order to make conclusive statements about the quality of fixed Internet access which service as the basis for a so-called “prima facie proof”.

RTR-NetTest


Press releases on net neutrality

Reports on net neutrality

National reports on net neutrality are published annually by the national regulatory authorities. In addition to an overview of the advisory and monitoring activities carried out in the reporting year, the reports of RTR examine a new topic in great detail each year.
In addition, BEREC publishes an annual European report that provides a Europe-wide overview. Furthermore, the European Commission published a report on the implementation of the net neutrality regulation on 30.04.2019.

Overview on net neutrality reports
Other documents


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