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The state of net neutrality in Norway

The annual report on net neutrality from the Norwegian Communications Authority (Nkom) concludes that, in general, the state of net neutrality in the Norwegian market seems to be relatively good. Nkom also has critical comments regarding a few conditions.

The European rules for net neutrality give internet users the right to an open internet access. Among else, the rules cover the right end-users have to decide for themselves what their internet access is used for, and that the internet service providers shall not limit the end-users right to access and distribute content of their choice.

As a basis for the annual report, which covers the period from May 2017 until April 2018, Nkom has collected information from internet service providers, and considered information that providers have published on the web about their subscriptions.

Zero-rating

An important topic in this period has been the introduction of zero-rating of music streaming in the Norwegian market for mobile internet access services. Telenor and Telia offer subscriptions where music streaming does not consume from the allowance included in the subscription.

The number of content providers included in the zero-rating schemes of Telenor and Telia have increased slightly over the past year, but is still dominated by larger, well-known music streaming providers.

The data allowances offered to Norwegian end-users are still smaller and more expensive than in comparable countries. However, Chili Mobil has been seen to buck the trend by offering a monthly allowance of 1,000 gigabytes. So far, no other mobile providers have launched a similar offer. Nkom considers the issue with zero-rating to be reduced when it becomes common with large or almost free data allowances.

The scale of zero-rating is the last criterion in the overall assessment, and Nkom assessed this in the cases of the Telenor and Telia zero-rating schemes of June 2017 and December 2017 respectively. The limited scale lead to the conclusion that there was no basis for issuing an order at that time. The scale of zero-rating has continued increasing after these assessments were conducted.

Traffic management

Nkom’s data collection from internet service providers shows no significant changes compared to last year regarding traffic management of the internet access services, as well as the provision of specialised services in the market.
Nkom has also reviewed the information provided by internet service providers to end-users about the internet access service, such as traffic management and internet access speed. The results show that the providers provide information, but that the clarity and level of detail of this information varies.

Internet access speed

For fixed internet accesses, there is a requirement that providers should provide information about the normally available upload and download speeds. The results of Nkom’s investigation show that the providers rarely satisfy this requirement. There is not the same speed indication requirement for mobile internet accesses. However, the regulation states that all internet service providers must provide information about the speed that they are able realistically to deliver.

The Regulation describes that regulators should monitor the general quality of internet access services. For fixed internet access services, the measurement results from Nettfart.no for the past year show that the average speeds for both downloading and uploading are increasing, as well as demonstrating a good correlation between advertised speed and measured speed. A positive development in speed has also been noticed for mobile internet access services.

Overall, the state of net neutrality in the Norwegian market seems to be relatively good. However, Nkom sees two prominent challenges for the coming year; zero-rating, as well as the inadequate specification of the speeds of the internet access services offered. Nkom will follow these developments further.