Squire Patton Boggs has advised a global satellite in-flight connectivity operator in advocating in favour of a relaxation of regulator Ofcom’s enforcement of UK net neutrality rules.
The rules, established several years ago, were designed to ensure that the traffic carried across broadband and mobile networks is treated equally, and particular content or services are not prioritised or slowed down so that some are favoured over others.
In 2021, Ofcom undertook a review of the UK’s net neutrality framework to ensure that as technology evolves, net neutrality continues to support innovation, investment and growth. In its newly published guidance, the regulator sets out its assessment of the issues raised and revised guidance on how the rules should apply. It looked at specific areas where greater clarity is needed to enable ISPs to innovate and manage their networks more efficiently, and to improve consumer outcomes. It also proposes to clarify its approach to enforcement where there is clear public benefit including enabling ISPs to prioritise and zero-rate access to emergency services, offer parental controls, and manage internet traffic on aeroplanes and trains where there is limited capacity available.
On the latter point, Ofcom states it is “unlikely to prioritise enforcement action against traffic management on Wi-Fi services provided on board aeroplanes”. In addition, it says that fair use policies are compatible with the UK net neutrality rules, and it endorses many of the points that our client had made in the answer to the public consultation.
The Squire Patton Boggs team was led by partner Francesco Liberatore, and included Matthew Kirk, Georg Serentschy, Tatiana Siakka, James Mosley and Sam Hare.
Mr. Liberatore commented: “This is a great result for our client. It is expected to unlock traffic management practices that will improve passengers’ experience and will result in greater use of Wi-Fi on board aeroplanes.”