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Strand Consult´s research notes about net neutrality:

Tesla’s bundling of zero rated Spotify with a SIM card is a violation of the EU’s net neutrality rules. Strand Consult submits complaint to two European telecom authorities.

European telecom authorities in Sweden, Netherlands, and Hungary have banned zero rated mobile services, including music streaming apps such as Spotify. American car company Telsa offers electric cars with services for music and navigation which communicate via mobile networks and embedded SIM cards. In practice Tesla is operating as an mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) and should be subject to regulation under EU and national telecom rules. Strand Consult has complained to European telecom regulators about Tesla’s violations.

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If the goal of the Open Internet is to ensure users’ rights and a good network experience, why did the EU ignore 8 telecom regulators who wanted to expose bad smartphones?

Strand Consult has for many years focused on providing consumers with good mobile network experiences. In May 2013 we released the research note Telecom regulators in 8 countries launch war against smartphones, say consumers require transparency describing in how telecom regulators in 8 countries asked for EU support to expose bad smartphones.

Unfortunately, the EU closed its ears to the telecoms regulators from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden. Instead it gave overwhelming attention to Google's and other US-funded net neutrality activists.

There is much academic evidence that shows that the vast majority of poor mobile experience results not from the network, but from the phone. But this is not a sexy thing for the EU to regulate, as people love their phones and phone makers run circles around regulators. Besides, it’s just easier to blame bad experiences on mobile operators, even if there is no evidence for it. Regulation by the EU is not about righting a wrong, facilitating market entry, or creating competition. It’s about creating a story that EU is doing something for the consumer. As such, roaming and net neutrality rules were announced in time for summer vacation, but neither of these measures create jobs or stimulate growth, the point of the Digital Single Market exercise.

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10 reasons not to trust BEREC on net neutrality. The EU process to create Open Internet guidelines lacks transparency, independence and credibility. See video of debate hosted by Slovenian telecom regulator which operators are suing over zero rating.

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) is collecting feedback on its proposed net neutrality guidelines through July 18. While BEREC may claim that it is taking public input, the truth is that the de facto guidelines were made long before the public consultation started. The consultation process is just a formality to make it look like BEREC listens to the people. Substantive change to the guidelines is unlikely, so the only way to undo BEREC’s illegality is to bring attention to its secret processes.

The rules adopted by the European Parliament and subsequent agreement by the European Commission and Council represent an important compromise not to unduly hamper freedom and innovation. At the time of the Parliamentary vote in October last year, amendments crafted by Google-sponsored net neutrality advocate Barbara van Schewick were rejected. However those provisions made their way into the BEREC interpretation through a series of closed door meetings. This represents not only an violation of the EU law, but a circumvention of the democratic process.

At the launch of the guidelines on June 6, BEREC Chair Willem Eschweiler pronounced, “We are not making new rules.” This is reminiscent of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Chair Tom Wheeler announcing his effort with the line, “We are not regulating the Internet”. The truth is in the contradiction. The real story is the opposite of what is said.

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The EU’s net neutrality rules and BEREC's implementation guidelines are a threat to Gay Mobile and other niche MVNOs that want differentiate themselves.

Last week the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) presented its guidelines for national regulatory authorities to implement the EU’s Open Internet rules. While the EU may have agreed on rules, in practice, it is BEREC's interpretation that decides what is allowed. BEREC has an expansive interpretation of net neutrality (a term never used in the EU rules), has introduced services to regulate that are not found in the official EU rules, and seeks to scrutinize ways that operators can earn revenue in future.

This is particularly bad news for mobile network virtual operators or MNVOs, which don’t own their networks, but need the ability to differentiate themselves to different market segments. This note describes the efforts of a number of important niche MVNOs. We describe a variety of MNVOs service specific communities, including military veterans, low-income inner city communities, and the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender (LBGT) community. However this analysis applies to a variety of niche, ethnic, religious, and other communities which wish to use creative business models and unique content. The analysis show that their growth will be imparied if BEREC’s implementation guidelines don’t change. Essentially the regulations and their interpretation will cement the market positions of Google and Apple, those companies which own and operate the apps stores which are the heart of the mobile content industry.

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The European telecoms regulator BEREC launched a hearing on implementing the net neutrality rules - most telecom operators do not have the knowledge or the documentation required to make a serious response

Net neutrality and “open internet” regulation is a major subject globally. Some 50 nations around the world now have rules, and the number is growing. Given the speed of rulemaking and limited regulatory impact assessment, many have difficulty understanding what net neutrality is, how the regulation works in practice, and how to have a meaningful dialogue on the issue with many different stakeholders.

In the coming month operators will respond to the BEREC consultation. Many of the operators fail to make a compelling response either because they lack the knowledge, are not able to communicate in an effective way, or they are afraid to take a strong position.

In general, we find that operators are both arrogant and ignorant; arrogant that they need to acknowledge the activist element, but also ignorant in the important academic information that can bolster their case. Most important, operators are outmatched when it comes to the global, coordinated, and sophisticated campaigns orchestrated by internet activists. These groups run circles around the operators.

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How will a BREXIT impact telecom regulation in Europe? John Strand: "It will be a regulatory nightmare for telecom operators."

Leading up the referendum on June 23, there are many articles which attempt to analyze the economic and political consequences of whether the United Kingdom will BREXIT (British exit) or BREMAIN (British remain) in the EU, but none have investigated the impact to telecom policy and regulation. Taking into account how EU telecom policy has worked over the years, this research note explores the angle from mobile telecom operators’ perspective and how EU politicians and regulators will likely respond.

For starters, the EU is not popular among many Europeans, and its leaders have not been able to communicate to ordinary people what the EU project is about. In practice, EU skeptical parties prosper. A number of referendums have not gone in favor of the EU. In December 2015 Denmark said No the EU, declining adopting a number of new EU rules. It looks as if the UK may say no the EU too, and bid farewell to the EU. Yet another spike could be hammered in the EU coffin.

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Net neutrality: Feelings may be justified in the debate, but there is no excuse not to follow an evidence-based approach to regulation
- A complex debate
There is no doubt that the net neutrality debate is complicated. Each country considering net neutrality rules has its own definition—from notions that all traffic should move at the same speed across a network to rules that enshrine modular internet architecture to other definitions. In a number of countries, calls for net neutrality have been coupled with arguments for freedom of speech, freedom from censorship, and respect of privacy.
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Net neutrality is place or on track in at least 50 countries – Strand Consult’s new report compares the rules, legal instruments, provisions, and outcomes
Strand Consult provides evidence-based research and analysis about the telecom industry, and has studied net neutrality in detail for some years. While most articles and reports about net neutrality focus on theoretical aspects, Strand Consult’s report is perhaps the only comprehensive, empirical investigation of net neutrality, looking at countries before and after rules are implemented.

The report Understanding Net Neutrality and Stakeholders' Arguments gathers all the information that you need in one place, including a summary and breakdown of the world’s rules by country, background on the key supporters and opponents, the 30 arguments for and against net neutrality, a review of the debates on zero rating and prioritization, and the academic background on net neutrality. Additionally our analysis show the emerging unintended consequences in countries with net neutrality rules including increased regulation on other parts of the internet ecosystem, increased broadband prices, copyright enforcement, privacy regulation, and increased surveillance.
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Why did BEREC invite Google’s top net neutrality lobbyist to write the telecom rules

The process to write the implementation guidelines of EU’s Open Internet rules is led by a self-proclaimed net neutrality activist from a non-EU telecom regulator with the help of Google’s top de facto lobbyist from Silicon Valley.

The EU Director General for Competition or DG Comp has floundered for years to bring antitrust action against Google. In spite of half a dozen investigations over the last decade, no meaningful remedies have been exacted on the company. Nearing its 20th birthday, Google enjoys a monopoly not just in search and mobile operating systems, but significant market power in video, comparison shopping, web browsers, web analytics, maps, and email. But the EU only has itself to blame for Google’s monopolies in the these markets. Given the European Commission’s schizophrenic approach to telecom, Google is rational to create and take advantage of fiscal and regulatory arbitrage. While one branch of EU government attempts antitrust enforcement against Google, another strengthens the company’s power through Open Internet rulemaking, a policy that restricts how European providers and startups can compete against Google and serve European end users.

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Response to Norwegian telecom regulator on zero rating

The Norwegian Communications Authority (NPT) recently published a blog on Net neutrality and charging models in which it suggests that operators should be prohibited from using zero rated subscription models. NPT can be commended for its opennes by posting its blogs in English (making the content more accessible and searchable) and by publishing the direct contact information of its employees. Norway has an impressive record on net neutrality, not only for its leadership in addressing the issue early on, but in a voluntary, co-regulatory approach which has succeeded to deter violations for 5 years and running. The Norwegian approach proves that supporting an Open Internet is already in the business interests of operators, and ex ante regulation is not needed to force operators to do what they want to do anyway.

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10 reasons why journalists should not interest themselves with net neutrality rules being introduced in the EU and around the world to regulate the telecom industry
Many talk about net neutrality but few have spent the time needed to understand the complex topic. Not only are net neutrality rules being proposed around the world, but they are increasingly coupled with proposals for regulation of the internet and internet companies.

Strand Consult’s team of top academics has studied this issue in detail to produce a report “Understanding Net Neutrality and Stakeholders' Arguments”, 340 pages that explore the issue in various countries around the world. To date, a number of media have covered the sensational aspects of the issue, but few have investigated the unintended consequences of the rules that could impact the entire internet ecosystem.
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The Internet is a haven for terrorists and psychopaths. Making net neutrality rules is probably one way for governments to legitimize more control over the Internet.

The Internet is wonderful. In addition to all of the commercial opportunities it affords, it enables unprecedented opportunities for communication.

But the Internet is also a playground for terrorists and psychopaths. In a matter of minutes, terrorists can announce that they have taken a journalist hostage and then upload a video of his execution. To be sure, such behavior should be condemned, but the fact remains that the Internet allows terrorists visibility and impact that they didn’t have before.

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Net neutrality on trial in the USA: What the oral arguments in the American court mean for telecom operators in the EU and the rest of the world. A report from Washington.

On Wednesday 9 December 2015 the European Commission is scheduled to present legislative proposals for the Digital Single Market which include rules for net neutrality. To many it may seem yet another boring piece of paper from the European Union, but not for mobile, cable and telecom operators. Regulation can have major impact on those those which develop innovative digitally connected services.

While the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) presses forward with its net neutrality framework to be presented in September 2016, it appears that the Federal Communication Commission’s plan for the “Open Internet” is unraveling. A three panel court in Washington criticized the regulator for failing to follow instructions on how such rules should be created. Not only are its rules threatened to be disqualified for procedural reasons, much of the FCC’s Open Internet Order may be unlawful.

For the last few years Strand Consult has analyzed net neutrality and its impact on investment and innovation in some 50 countries. It has a produced a comprehensive report Understanding Net Neutrality and Stakeholders’ Arguments. In more than 450 pages, it describes what operators need to know about this issue and the key arguments that stakeholders make for and against it.

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What Norway's telecom regulator forgot to say about net neutrality rules in the US

A week ago NKOM, Norway's teleocm regulator, released a blog comparing US and Norwegian approaches to net neutrality rules. This note critiques NKOM’s analysis and includes the important points about the American rules which NKOM failed to mention.

Strand Consult has made a detailed analysis of the more than 20 countries with net neutrality rules and the various legal instruments used. The US is unique where the telecom regulator attempts to create rules from existing telecom regulation, and it has been struck down in court twice for exceeding its authority. It now faces it’s third attempt.

As for the rest of the world, net neutrality is pursued either through parliamentary legislation or multi-stakeholder dialogue. The soft approach, as pursued in Norway, has been more successful to deter net neutrality violations than hard law. Moreover, society wins with a lower cost model of regulation and reduced risk of regulatory errors. If the US wants a sustainable net neutrality solution, Congress, not the FCC, must act.

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Why ad blocking, a form of digital self-defense, is not a net neutrality violation. Strand Consult Research Note

Now a $100 billion business globally, mobile ads account for about 20 percent of the data traffic consumed on a typical mobile subscription. This is frequently traffic that subscribers don’t want and haven’t asked for. Video ads, in particular, slow the Internet experience and can render in such a way to obstruct the actual content the user requests, not to mention burn out the device battery and run up the customer’s data charges. Not only are some ads irrelevant to users, a number may be infiltrated with “malvertising”, the malicious practice of embedding malware within legitimate advertising (or even running parallel to legitimate advertising), which can infect users’ systems without even clicking on the ads.

Moreover mobile ads are not passive. You can’t change the channel or leave to the room to avoid exposure. Digital ads are integrated with advanced ad serving technologies to collect information about the users’ behavior which is aggregated and offered to advertisers to help them make their ad placing decisions. Understandably at least 200 million users have downloaded ad blocking software to protect their user experience and economize on their mobile subscription. The market for ad blocking is a big and growing, as consumers use these tools as a form of digital self-defense.

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The national broadcasting and media companies in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, UK and other European countries should support their local internet providers in net neutrality discussion. They’re in the same boat as telecom companies and have the same challenges. Norway has the right idea with a soft approach to net neutrality.
Strand Consult has followed the net neutrality debate for some years. Our report Understanding Net Neutrality and Stakeholders' Arguments looks at how the debate plays out in different countries and the various stakeholders. Those who believe that “hard” approach, or legislation, is the way to preserve net neutrality are misguided. Any law creates winners and losers and that opens the door to endless challenges and litigation. Given the the theory of rational expectations, any rule that unduly punishes one party creates an incentive for a legal workaround.

Norway has the right idea to pursue net neutrality with a soft approach. In Norway stakeholders including internet service providers, content companies, application developers, consumers, and government come together for an ongoing dialogue to create win-win solutions. More important, Norway has chosen a model which builds consensus between national actors that contribute financially to Norwegian society.
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Operators should be the world’s leading consumer organizations. How operators lost consumers’ trust and how they can get it back.
It’s an irony that the world’s operators, which provide communication services, should frequently do such a poor job at communicating. There are few services in the world more demanded than mobility and connectivity, and yet operators who provide these essential capabilities are maligned. Given that people love to communicate, they should love their mobile operator, the same way they love their phones, cars and other personal devices. In this research note, we look at the challenges operators face and how they could address them.

Operators have lost customers’ trust because of the proliferation of misguided regulation that drives a wedge between operators and their customers and because of a lack of leadership in the policy dialogue.
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Netflix Q3 shareholder letter reveals PR tactics to shakedown telco and content industries and to influence regulators
There is more to Netflix’s success in being the world’s leading on-demand over the top (OTT) video service than good content and cool technology. To grow to more than 50 million members in more than 40 countries requires a shrewd public reations (PR) and policy game to paint itself as the fragile underdog to regulators, journalists and the public while it fiercely lobbies for regulation against the telecom and content industries.

Netflix’s recent 3rd quarter financial letter to shareholders provides salient examples of its powerful double-talk. The company notes that even though it missed some of its numbers for the US, “There is no change to our view on the long term attractiveness and US market size of Internet television, and no change to our view of the ultimate size of our US membership.“ We find it interesting that the company that so maligns broadband providers has managed to build a successful, profitable and growing business on top of their networks. Indeed if broadband networks were not up to speed in the US and around the world, Netflix would still be a DVD-by-mail company.
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Net neutrality: Telecom operators, act now or be left on the platform when the EU net neutrality train leaves the station August 18
Many talk about net neutrality in the European Union but few understand the consequences for industry, innovation and consumers. The deadline for input to the EU’s net neutrality rules is August 18, just at the launch of the Italian presidency. Net neutrality, if imposed in Europe, will be a paradigm shift and have an drastic impact on the already ailing telecom industry in Europe.
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AT&T’s Sponsored Data is nothing new. Why it’s hypocritical to allow paywalls but not data caps.
Over the last few days there have been some negative stories about AT&T’s new Sponsored Data program which enables certain mobile applications to avoid being counted toward a subscriber’s data cap. AT&T compared the product to the toll-free 1-800 services with which Americans are familiar. However this product is very common with dozens of mobile providers around the world that regularly offer data plans where certain content and applications are not counted toward the data cap. Consumers in these countries don’t complain of net neutrality violations, rather they look for mobile providers to offer them value for money.
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American telecom regulator FCC just released 400 pages of net neutrality rules - Get a review and assessment of rules and likely legal challenges in the 3rd edition of Strand Consult's report: Understanding Net Neutrality and Stakeholders' Arguments

A number of countries have made net neutrality rules or are in the process of doing so. Most operators have experienced political interests that want to regulate and control the Internet. The FCC’s rules set a new standard in the demands they place on the industry—and also in their scope which could be used to regulate internet companies, the very service and application providers that the rules purport to protect.

If you think that the so-called Title II regulations in the United States only apply to telecommunications companies, you are wrong. The FCC has chosen to classify broadband under the regulations of the monopoly telephone era, a sharp reversal of its policy that allowed broadband to be relatively free from regulation. In so doing, the FCC opens the Internet to hundreds of rules and provisions. Anything that the FCC deems a telecommunications service, “transmission between or among points specified by the user, of information of the user's choosing”, could be regulated. The FCC has also created the ability to hear disputes and bring actions against companies using a“standard of conduct” clause. Interconnection may be the first battle.

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Should you trust Sir Tim Berners-Lee on net neutrality?
Strand Consult eagerly awaits action from the Juncker team, particularly Andrus Ansip, VP for the Digital Single Market. In our earlier research note, we observed that Ansip in his confirmation speech reiterated the goals first described by Neelie Kroes, but were ultimately not delivered. Kroes lost political capital on net neutrality, and Ansip does not want to make the same mistake. He has come out with in support for the notion even though it contradicts his libertarian roots.

Politicians engage in feel-good, look-good populist rhetoric about net neutrality where emotions substitute for facts, but it’s a slippery slope. As has been revealed on numerous occasions, most recently this week in the US with the FCC rejecting two Congressional bills that would enshrine net neutrality in favor of regulating the industry under the monopoly era framework of Title II, net neutrality is probably a Trojan horse for continued regulation of the telecom industry with the ultimate goal to turn private networks into public utilities.
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Net neutrality campaigns have succeeded to make toxic rules in the US. India is the next target. The Indian regulator’s process to solicit comment on OTT will likely be hijacked by activists.
Like regulators in other countries, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India seeks to update its regulatory framework to incorporate the role of over the top (OTT) services and applications in competition. TRAI offers an open process where anyone can submit comments. This process which is supposed to solicit authentic and informed comment is easily gamed with digital tools by advocacy organizations expert at conducting global campaigns from a distance. Of the alleged 4 million comments submitted to the FCC, just 1000 submissions had substance. The vast majority of comments were computer-generated form letters, many of which came from outside the United States. American media have already attempted to smear the regulatory process in India to catalyze net neutrality advocates to action.

A number of countries have made net neutrality rules or are in the process of doing so. Most operators have experienced the political interests to regulate and control the Internet. The FCC’s rules set a new standard in the demands they place on the industry—and also in their scope which could be used to regulate internet companies themselves, the very service and application providers that the rules purport to protect.
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Tier 0: A new category of telecom operators is born. The reign of Tier 1 operators such as Orange, Vodafone, Telefonica, and Deutsche Telekom is over.

A Tier 1 telecom operator owns a telecom network in which it is the top level operator. It hosts its own numbers and delivers voice and data services. Tier 2, 3 and 4 operators operate their own numbering systems, and they may own some amount of network, but generally they purchase access to higher tier networks to deliver services. Like other operators, a Tier 0 operator has its own system to manage users. However unlike Tier 2-4 operators, Tier 0 operators don’t not have to purchase network access to provide their services. Instead they create services through technology innovation, and the Tier 1-4 operators have to deliver the Tier 0 services for free.

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EU Vote on Roaming Net Neutrality: Monitoring citizens’ mobile use is okay, but don’t touch the internet
The proposal adopted by EU parliament today will not solve the big problems there are in the EU when it comes to providing citizens with access to broadband infrastructure.
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EU telecom regulation is the art of the possible. This week’s ITRE Committee vote kills net neutrality to save free roaming. But rest assured that net neutrality will be resurrected, once EU leaders have assured their re-election

While the EU Commission has pursued a lot of nice-sounding policies, it has avoided fundamental reforms that would reverse Europe from falling behind in the digital economy. When it comes to the digital single market, EU leaders have shown that the next election is more important than Europe’s competitiveness in the global economy. Strand Consult’s report Understanding Net Neutrality and Stakeholders’ Arguments reviews Europe’s many economic challenges and examines EU telecom regulation and politics.

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Are mobile operators' subsidies for iPhones a violation of net neutrality and the Open Internet?

Network neutrality, which has been defined differently from country to country, is essentially the idea that all data should move at the same speed across the internet—and that laws should be passed require operators to manage their networks accordingly. Traffic management was less of an issue in the narrowband era when it mattered little if an email arrived with a few seconds delay. In the broadband era, however, different applications require different qualities of service. Latency makes voice over internet protocol (VOIP) and video application unworkable, but the signal from a coffee machine connected to the internet can be delivered with less than best efforts service.

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The net neutrality debate will explode in the coming months. Many telecom operators are not prepared.
Here are the 30 arguments that proponents of net neutrality will use in the debate.
The net neutrality debate as measured by the number of articles and tweets has been is growing steadily over the past few weeks. Strand Consult has followed this topic for years and observes that many operators are not prepared to participate in this debate where they play a central role. The report Understanding Net Neutrality and Stakeholders’ Arguments investigates the challenges facing the telecom industry and reviews what has happened and what will likely happen in a number of countries on this issue.
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Net neutrality is shaping up to be the key debate for the telecom industry in Europe in 2014
Here are four risks operators face
The telecom industry is accustomed to a transparent regulatory process where rules are clear, and each party gets the chance to express its opinion. With the net neutrality debate, those days are over. Using social media and the press, small actors can exert an outsized influence on the debate. Operators will come under fire when and where they least expect it, and they will likely be attacked for a mistake.

The EU Commission has a proposal for net neutrality, and many supporters of the issue want to bring it forward in the European Parliament. These include the Council of Europe, the OECD, the World Bank, telecom regulators, various political advocacy groups, and luminaries such as Tim Berners Lee.
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Google, Apple and Microsoft discriminate in many ways
When it comes to net neutrality, why don’t people talk about operating systems?
Many are talking about net neutrality, and it is high on the EU’s policymaking agenda. The debate about the open internet is important, but the discussion is one-sided. Net neutrality supporters focus exclusively on internet service providers (ISPs) and overlook the many instances of discrimination across the internet value chain - operating systems, web platforms and devices.
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