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Net neutrality

Net neutrality entails that you can reach the entire Internet via the Internet service provider and that traffic is transferred regardless of the content or application, sender address or receiver address. The sender address and receiver address mean that the transfer is independent of the end user and content/application providers.

The objective of net neutrality is to ensure that the Internet remains an open and non-discriminating platform for all types of communication and content distribution". Together with trendsetting players in the Norwegian Internet industry Nkom has prepared guidelines for net neutrality based on three principles.

  1. Internet users are entitled to an Internet connection with a predefined capacity and quality.
  2. Internet users are entitled to an Internet connection that enables them to 
    • send and receive content of their choice
    • use services and run applications of their choice
    • connect hardware and use software of their choice that do not harm the network.
  3. Internet users are entitled to an Internet connection that is free of discrimination with regard to type of application, service or content or based on sender or receiver address.

The first principle notes the importance of the Internet connection having well-defined performance. An important element of this is that in the instances in which the connection also provides access to other services (so-called specialised services) such as Voice over IP and IPTV, these extra paid for services shall not be transferred at the expense of the Internet service. This conceptual model that differentiates between Internet access and specialised services is in accordance with BEREC's (Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications) guidelines.

The second principle emphasises that the end-users themselves must be able to choose what they wish to use the Internet connection for. However, this must not be understood such that the users "have permission", with the help of net neutrality, to commit illegal acts. Typical issue of discussion in connection with this is peer-to-peer file sharing. The illegal distribution of copyright material is illegal regardless of this. However, we cannot then stop all use of peer-to-peer technology because this also has many legitimate uses.

The third principle emphasises that if bottlenecks occur on the network, the traffic from the different users must be processed fairly in relation to one another. However, with the limitations in Internet technology it is not possible to ensure the absolute equal allocation of capacity. However, it is inherent in this principle that unreasonable manipulation or degrading of traffic for individual users shall not occur.

The guidelines for net neutrality are technology neutral and apply for all types of access networks. Nkom has also had talks with providers of mobile broadband which concluded with the guidelines also applying for mobile Internet access.