Response to 5G Manifesto in BEREC consultation on Net Neutrality

AKVorrat has co-drafted several responses in the public consultation for the new EU net neutrality rules. Our main positions are outlined in the policy analysis co-drafted with European Digital Rights (EDRi). But we also wanted to respond to a recent, particularly nasty attack on net neutrality from the telecom industry. On the 7th July, the 17 largest telecom companies in Europe published a seven-page lobby document, called the "5G Manifesto". The document asks for weaker net neutrality rules from BEREC and threatens to stop investment in their own networks if the telecom regulators (BEREC) don't give into their demands. To make matters worse, this 'Manifesto' was immediately endorsed by digital commissioner Günther Oettinger, who thanked the industry for their input and committed to drafting a 5G action plan which would include the industry's analysis and recommendations amoung others. (See: "5G-Manifest“: Telekom-Industrie attackiert Netzneutralität, Günther Oettinger stellt sich auf ihre Seite" and "Commissioner OETTINGER welcomes 5G Manifesto")
 
 
The 'Manifesto' has attracted a lot of media attention. This is particularly worrying because Mr. Oettinger is one of the Commissioners of the EU and should therefore uphold the independence of the BEREC (which EU law is required to be neutral). His endorsement is a clear attempt to influence the regulator for weaker protection of end-user rights. 
 
We as AKVorrat have therefore decided to respond to the claims of the industry with a submission of our own. 
  • Network slicing can be rolled out effectively in net neutrality-compatible ways, either as a user-controlled, reasonable traffic management measure or in the form of a specialised service. The positive 5G developments in the USA after 2015 are proof of that. 
  • Investment in network rollout is not discernibly affected by net neutrality rules, which are instead likely to have beneficial effects for competition in IAS infrastructure, because they offer a predictable market situation, instead of dangerous experiments with untested vertically-integrated business models, which have to be rejected because of their harmful effects contrary to the goal of the Regulation. 
  • Regarding monetisation, the Manifesto does not distinguish adequately between specialised services, where the entire value chain for specialised services can be permitted, while such monetisation of Internet Access Service is rightfully permitted by the legislator. 
  • With all these claims refuted, the 5G Manifesto leaves all but one rationale for the weakening of net neutrality rules: protecting the return on investment for telecoms operators for a network rollout which will occur any way. 
 
We will continue to monitor such lobbying attemps, and keep the public informed throughout the coming weeks of backroom negotiations. BEREC has a plenary on the 25. August and on 30. August the new EU-wide net neutrality rules will be presented in Brussels.