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Net neutrality 2018: where do we stand now?

IIC UK chapter event

6 September 2018
hosted by Arnold & Porter

IMG 0454An exploration of international experiences and challenges ahead

Over the past decade, net neutrality grew as one of the major policy debates on the information society scene, partly reflecting the tensions between rapidly ‘converging’ actors in the market. Rather than debating the merits of net neutrality, the panelists discussed the lessons learnt from experience and cases so far in Europe; heard the latest from the US ‘moving away’ from the Open Internet Order, as it’s been characterised; and looked ahead to future questions, such as the context of IoT and 5G where the different future network architectures may raise questions on how net neutrality would be respected and the rules enforced. These were the topics of discussion at this UK Chapter event of the IIC.

Chaired by Rob Bratby (Arnold & Porter), there were four presentations covering different aspects of this broad topic.

Joseph Ward (BT Group) opened the discussion exploring the impact of the recent move by regulators to view certain categories of practices as ‘traffic management’ instead of ‘commercial practices’. Mr Ward also discussed the relatively sparse economic analysis of zero rating and the difficulty in knowing where to draw the line.

Jaromir Novak (Czech Telecommunications Authority) compared three recent cases of the Czech Telecommunications Authority (in respect of O2, Vodafone, and T-Mobile), discussed the challenges and importance of gathering robust evidence and examined lessons learnt from the remedies in those cases.

Staci Pies (Google) explained the way the approach to net neutrality in the US has changed in recent years, in particular from 2010 when the Open Internet Order was adopted to 2018 when the FCC voted to repeal the Title II rules.

Finally, Chris Marsden (University of Sussex) provided an overview of the history of net neutrality since 1999 and went on to examine the future of net neutrality battles in Europe, including its interaction with developments in the privacy sphere.

The presentations were followed by a lively discussion on various topics such as:

  • The impact of technological development such as artificial intelligence and 5G (network slicing) on net neutrality;
  • The future outlook for the implementation and review of Net neutrality rules, in Europe, the US and elsewhere;
  • The implication of Brexit for net neutrality and the likelihood of divergence with the EU rules (and possible convergence with the rules of other trading partners such as the US);
  • Regulators’ approach to assessing quality of service; and
  • Content providers’ role and ability to opt-out of practices such as zero rating.



Chris Marsden

Chris Marsden

Professor of Internet Law, University of Sussex

Jaromir Novak

Jaromir Novak

Jaromir Novak, Chairman, Czech Telecommunications Authority (CTU)

Joseph Ward

Joseph Ward

Head of Regulatory Specialists, BT Group

Rob Bratby

Rob Bratby

Partner, Arnold & Porter

Staci Pies

Staci Pies

Sr. Public Policy and Government Relations Counsel, Google

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