WS142 Net Neutrality vs. 5G and New Technological Challenges

13 November 2018 - A Workshop on Other in Paris, France

Pre-Session Synthesis

- Session Type (Workshop, Open Forum, etc.): debate (90min)

- Title: Net neutrality vs. 5G and new technological challenges


- Date & Time: November 13th, 2018/ 11:50am – 1:20pm


- Organizer(s):
Laura Létourneau (regulatory authority)
Jean Cattan (regulatory authority)


- Chair/Moderator:
Laura Létourneau (onsite moderator)
Jean Cattan (online moderator)


- Rapporteur/Notetaker: Jean Cattan


- List of speakers and their institutional affiliations (Indicate male/female/ transgender male/ transgender female/gender variant/prefer not to answer):

Carol Anderson, AT&T - Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG), female

Estelle Massé, Access Now - Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG), female
Lisa Felton, Vodafone - Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG), female
Luca Belli, FGV, Center for Technology & Society - Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC), male

- Theme (as listed here): Technical & Operational Topics

- Subtheme (as listed here): Net neutrality


- [PRE-REPORT] Please state no more than three (3) key messages of the discussion. [150 words or less]

  • With 5G, Internet Service Providers have the technical capability to provide a broad range of qualities of service, tailored to the diverse requirements from vertical applications. Technologies such as network slicing and edge computing allow for the development of several innovations: tele-surgery, automated driving, virtual reality etc.
  • Net Neutrality is a set of fundamental principles guaranteeing non-discrimination in access to the internet. The impact of rules prohibiting or limiting certain practices on the development of cutting-edge broadband services as 5G is a subject of debate.
  • Assessing how Net Neutrality applies to 5G in some concrete use cases is the way of ensuring a sound development of this new technology. This debate should be the starting point of an ongoing dialogue between operators, regulators, civil society and academia.

- [REPORT] Please state no more than three (3) key messages of the discussion. [150 words or less]

- Operators are committed to maintaining an open internet. Operators participating to the debate don’t block or throttle traffic (except as permitted or required by law).

- According to some operators, there is no need to change the European Open Internet Regulation to deal with 5G. Only the BEREC guidelines need to be clarified or amended in some aspects. It is about evolution not revolution.

- Operators believe these changes are needed in order to safeguard the rights of consumers to choose the services they want to access and to maintain a diverse, open and innovative internet ecosystem.

- Please elaborate on the discussion held, specifically on areas of agreement and divergence. [150 words] Examples: There was broad support for the view that…; Many [or some] indicated that…; Some supported XX, while others noted YY…; No agreement…

There is a broad agreement among regulators, civil society and operators that innovation, 5G and net neutrality shall be all promoted.

Net neutrality is enshrined in the constitutional design of the internet, i.e. a general purpose network. It puts intelligence at the edge and is now the basic foundation of democracy and competition.

There has been a discussion on what 5G will bring in addition to previous mobile generation. Operators tend consider that 5G will be quite distinct from previous technologies since it is not about going faster but having more control on many parameters. It may also offer a better reach to rural areas.

On the other hand, emphasis has been put on the fact that 5G, just as 4G, needs infrastructures and deployment. 5G may also take many years to be deployed. Also, the use cases accessible through 5G were already taken into account during the drafting of the Guidelines.

According to some operators, BEREC guidelines create barriers to innovation, by including prescriptive requirements or failing to address new issues – examples given include:

  • Defining “necessary” as a service which does not work on the best efforts internet, which fails to take into account the needs of specific services e.g. agriculture cases which may require higher latency and lower power, virtual reality which may require additional quality to prevent nausea in end users
  • Requiring operators to ensure specialised services will not impact current or future internet access services in advance, which may have the inefficient result of discouraging efficient sharing of network resources and which fails to take into account investment already made in 5G resources
  • Failing to take a technology neutral approach. For example by prohibiting sub-internet offers other than services limited by a device – but failing to make it clear that this does not prohibit other internet of things services , for example, machine to person services set up in the network on the request of the end user (e.g. connected car communicating to a service centre).
  • Addressing new issues such as the fact that this will be the first time that we move to software-managed networks to adjust to users’ needs. New players other than operators may also be able to control the quality delivered.

For the civil society:

  • 5G could be an extraordinary opportunity to increase connectivity but the practical sides need to be examined in more detailed before one can say whether and how it would impact net neutrality. Net neutrality is at the core of the functionning and availabibility of the internet, all new technology should adapt to it. Deploying 5G all over the territory will be extraordinary costly. For long, 5G may only be used as an updated 4G, to which the current framework is perfectly fit to regulate.
  • 5G uses cases presently put forward were already taken into account during the drafting of the Open Internet Regulation and BEREC guidelines and therefore can and should be developed in line with net neutrality. As we don't see the type of changes that would make the technology differ from what has been considered so far, it is more to 5G to adapt to net neutrality, and not the other way round. We need to examine how much these services are so new that we need to rethink the whole structures that has been agreed upon.
  • The framework already makes sufficient room for 5G to be deployed. All frameworks allow differentiated treatment as long as this is not discriminatory, meaning as long as this does not target specific users, services, or applications.  So you can utilize the full potential 5G shaping traffic.  Article 3.3 already states that discriminatory reasonable traffic management is feasible as long it is transparent, it doesn't target specific services and it is justified by the specific nature of the traffic. It is the same thing in Brazil, where  differentiation is possible as long as it is compatible with international standards, meaning IETF standards (RFC 6057

- Please describe any policy recommendations or suggestions regarding the way forward/potential next steps. [100 words]

What is now needed is a common understanding of use cases on one side and of the framework on the other. This is all the more important at a time when the BEREC guidelines and/or the European Open Internet Regulation will be put under examination.

While for operators 5G appears as an opportunity to clarify the standards already integrated in the framework, representatives of civil society and academia highlighted that the framework is technologically neutral and that it is up to 5G to be brought in line with the guidelines. All speakers however agreed that it matters to have more guidance from regulators for operators when offering new services that enable innovation across a range of industrial and consumer sectors.

There was an agreement among all speakers that the EU net neutrality law is a positive framework that should not be re-open or re-negotiated. 5G can be delivered in line with the EU Regulation.

- What ideas surfaced in the discussion with respect to how the IGF ecosystem might make progress on this issue? [75 words]

A multistakeholder approach to the discussion and ongoing review of the BEREC Guidelines would make them more robust, adaptable and future proof.

- Please estimate the total number of participants.

Around 80/90 participants

- Please estimate the total number of women and gender-variant individuals present.

Mostly male (other than on the panel)

- To what extent did the session discuss gender issues, and if to any extent, what was the discussion? [100 words]


Session Time: 
Tuesday, 13 November, 2018 - 11:50 to 13:20
Salle II