Net Neutrality in Europe and the Role of Broadband Measurement
The central policies of Europe's Digital Single Market are to build out world-class broadband service to every home and business and to protect the open marketplace of digital speech and commerce with "net neutrality" rules. With these pillars in place to support innovation, the challenge is effective oversight and enforcement of the rules. Do consumers know why Internet speeds are slow on certain networks at certain times of the day? Do we have enough data to protect consumers from enduring actual speeds that are no where near as fast as advertised? What are the warning signs that a network operator may be tempted to violate net neutrality rules? How can we effectively stand guard over the open Internet across hundreds of networks carring countless digital service?
The answer is measurement. Regulators must collect accurate broadband performance data in order to evaluate whether we are making progress in expanding our digital infrastructure and to police possible net neutrality violations. That is easier said than done. We cannot rely on data provided by the network owners whose are incentives are to paint the rosiest picture possible. And we need measurement tools that are common to every member state so that the information collected is comparable for cross-market analysis.
A new paper published today outlines the key features of Interent performance measurement necessary to support both broadband buildout and net neutrality. The analysis shows why Europe needs robust measurement tools that are open source, open data, and focused on tracking the signals that indicate a degraded user experience. The arguments and evidence presented here support the decision of Europe's umbrella telecommunications regulatory agency (BEREC) to build and implement interoperable tools across the EU. BEREC's proceeding on this topic closed today -- and it is a pivotal moment to emphasize why the management of Europe's most important Internet policies requires effective measurement tools. You can't manage what you don't measure. Here's how we can do it right.