"Smartphones, tablets, voice assistants… Are devices the weak link in achieving an open internet?" Arcep creates a dedicated team and launches a series workshops

Via ARCEP - Press Releases

Oct 2, 2017

Paris, 29 September 2017: In 2015, the European Open Internet regulation enshrined the principle of an open internet, and gave national regulatory authorities (NRA) the task of ensuring net neutrality. Arcep nevertheless believes that internet access does not end with network access, and that other intermediaries may have the power to impede users' ability to access certain content and services on the Web. This is true of devices (smartphones, tablets, computers…), their operating systems and their app stores which are controlled by a small number of economic actors.

A dedicated team to assess the influence that devices have over open internet access

In May 2017, Arcep published its first report on the topic: drafted following a series of interviews, it puts forth an initial diagnosis of the influence that devices can have on users' ability to access the internet and its different content.

For the next stage in this work, Arcep has today created a dedicated, cross-functional team, which will be led by Jennifer Siroteau. This action plan will be carried out under the supervision of Arcep Executive Board member, Françoise Benhamou.

To put economic stakeholders at the heart of this investigative process, Arcep is opening up a dialogue in the form of three workshops

The next stage in the process will consist of three workshops, whose purpose will be to question the premise and compare the status quo to possible, better futures. Arcep is inviting internet companies, equipment suppliers and consumer representatives, as well as any trade journalists who are interested, to make known their interest in taking part in these workshops.

Workshop No. 1: Let's design the ideal app store!

9 October 2017 starting at 2:00 pm | Numa (39 rue du Caire, 75002 Paris)

To better adapt to how new smart devices work, more and more content is being made available in the form of apps. This means of accessing content can involve certain limitations:

  • For users who, as a result, will likely not have access to all of the content, despite it being available on the internet;
  • For economic actors (app store access prices, specific technical terms and conditions for deploying applications...).

Based on this premise, the aim of the workshop will be to design the "ideal" model for making content available. It will also provide an opportunity to think about the relevance and scope of possible future regulation.

Workshop No. 2: Back to the future! Let's design tomorrow's devices, in light of past successes and failures

13 November 2017 starting at 2:00 pm | Le Tank (22 bis rue des Taillandiers, 75011 Paris)

A plethora of fixed and mobile devices is available today, and competition between their manufacturers is lively. However, the choice of built-in operating systems to power these devices is limited. Some players have proposed alternative systems, which failed to catch on. Why did they fail? Is there still room for new players?

This workshop will also be devoted to exploring how we expect devices to evolve over time, changes in connectivity systems, specialised devices… In other words, to design the smartphone of the future (which, by the way, will probably not be a phone!).

Workshop No.3: Are we being held hostage by our operating systems? A round-up of available solutions

26 November 2017 starting at 9:00 am | Cap Digital (14 rue Alexandre Parodi, 75010 Paris)

Today's mobile operating system (OS) market is dominated by Google (Android) and Apple (iOS). When a users wants to switch smartphones, there are obstacles that may prevent them from choosing a different OS: problems with transferring their data (contacts, photos, calendar, e-mail accounts, applications…), the loss of certain apps or services when switching to a new environment, the need to pay a second time for apps they had already purchased for their old system. How can we remedy this situation?

A complete report and an international event in Q1 2018 to anticipate the regulatory challenges that lie ahead.

Following through on the workshops held in autumn 2017, Arcep will be publishing an in-depth report in early 2018. This second report could then serve as the starting point for drafting suitable regulatory measures to be introduced at the national or European level. It will be presented at an international event in Paris.

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