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The Norwegian model

When comparing the Norwegian and general European approaches to net neutrality, both similarities and differences can be found. The objective of ensuring net neutrality is largely the same. In the EU Framework Directive for Electronic Communication this is worded as follows: "The national regulatory authorities shall promote the interests of the citizens of the European Union by inter alia … promoting the ability of end-users to access and distribute information or run applications and services of their choice".

Norwegian Communications Authority (Nkom) was already actively working to protect the rights of users to use their Internet connection as they themselves wish, before this objective was introduced in the Framework Directive. Nkom's own wording of the objective for the net neutrality work is as follows: "The overall goal for net neutrality is to ensure that the Internet represents an open and non-discriminating platform for all types of communication and content distribution".

Nkom and the Norwegian Internet industry have jointly formulated guidelines for net neutrality. These describe overall principles for how net neutrality shall be practised by the players. This approach has functioned well as a good means for achieving the objective of neutral Internet services for Norwegian users and has thus far made it unnecessary to establish statutory net neutrality as we have seen in certain other European countries.

The Norwegian model for net neutrality can be described as a co-regulatory approach. Co-regulation is a form of self-regulation under the active leadership of the regulator (in this case Nkom). The regulator is thereby able to set clear goals for the guidelines that are developed, while at the same time the various players in the industry can balance out each other's views. There are typically three main types of industry players: (i) Internet service providers, (ii) content and application providers, and (iii) consumers, represented by the consumer organisations.

The Norwegian guidelines for net neutrality were launched in 2009. Industry players that have not formally agreed to the guidelines also appear to follow them in practice. The working group that developed the guidelines has subsequently functioned as a reference group that meets once a year to discuss developments in the industry and whether the guidelines are functioning as intended. Thus far, the conclusion from these meetings has been that the guidelines function as they should and that no update is necessary as yet.

Nkom has also considered it important to become involved in the European and international dialogue concerning net neutrality. The Internet stretches over national borders and cooperation between countries is important for maintaining an open Internet. Nkom has also become involved with organisations such as BEREC (Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications), EuroDIG (European Dialogue on Internet Governance) and IGF (Internet Governance Forum) for whom net neutrality is high on the agenda. We have also placed emphasis on actively participating in the public debate at both national and global level.