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Norwegian report on Content Delivery Networks (CDN)

The Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority concludes in the report “Content Delivery Networks – regulatory assessment” that there are no regulatory needs associated with the CDN marked at the time being. The report is a follow-up of the report “The changing Internet” from 2011.

Multimedia traffic over Internet has increased significantly in recent years, and Content Delivery Networks (CDN) has played an important role in this development. The Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority (NPT) has considered CDN up against the current electronic communication regulations, and against questions regarding network neutrality and robustness. The report is an assignment from the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communication and is a follow-up of the report “The changing Internet”, published in 2011.

The NPT has performed a preliminary regulatory assessment of whether CDN is covered by the current electronic communications regulations. NPT has considered whether CDN can be considered an electronic communication service and/or network in relation to the definitions provided in the Electronic Communications Act.

In its evaluations, NPT has assumed that CDN services as a starting point do not appear to fulfil the criteria for electronic communications services. With regard to infrastructure-based CDN services, the transmission part of the CDN deliverable may fulfil the criteria. The conclusions are uncertain and the Authority is open to changing these, especially in light of the Ministry of Transport and Communications' proposal for new definitions. The Ministry sent these definitions on an ordinary hearing round in June 2010.

Considering network neutrality NPT believes that CDN must be viewed in the same manner as other servers that generate content. CDN will therefore not be subject to the network neutrality requirements.

CDN network that has been built with high redundancy normally has high uptimes. A failure of all CDN servers at an ISP can lead to significant traffic disturbances and reduced access to and from the ISP network, and in the worst-case scenario can lead to overloading. The consequences will nevertheless be limited.

However, if one of the largest CDN networks goes down, the global Internet could be affected. However, it is possible for a content provider to secure its services against the breakdown of an entire system by entering distribution agreements with multiple CDN providers.