Europe's telecom regulators tackle the Internet of Things and applying regulation to OTT

Paris, 9th October 2015

Europe's telecom regulators tackle the Internet of Things and applying regulation to OTT

BEREC (Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications) has launched several public consultations on a variety of topics, including:

  • A draft report on the Internet of Things (closing on 6 November 2015),
  • A draft report on over-the-top (OTT) services (closing on 2 November 2015),
  • The draft BEREC work programme for 2016 (closing on 30 October 2015).

All three of these topics will be discussed at the upcoming Stakeholders Forum being held in Brussels on 15 October 2015.

These public consultations are a follow-up to the plenary meeting held in Riga, which also provided the opportunity to approve several reports for publication: report on Layer 2 wholesale Ethernet access products, 11th edition of the Report on regulatory accounting, and the International roaming benchmark report for October 2014 to March 2015.

BEREC is an independent European body whose members include the 28 national regulatory authorities (NRAs) from European Union Member States, as well as nine observer member NRAs. BEREC serves as a key advisor to European institutions, a role that was established by European regulation and is now officially recognised. Further information about BEREC and its operation are available in the annex to this document.

Annex 1 : Public consultations launched by BEREC

Draft report on enabling the Internet of Things

The draft report entitled "Enabling the Internet of things" describes the current state of play, and analyses a series of regulatory issues, such as access to the technical resources needed for machine-to-machine (M2M) - frequencies, numbers, IP addresses - and analyses whether the current European regulatory framework is adequate. In particular, the report reveals that existing European regulation on mobile roaming is difficult to apply to M2M services, and calls for clarifications from European lawmakers and the Commission.

Other topics - which are of equally great importance, but only partially fall under the purview of regulatory authorities responsible for electronic communications - are also examined in the report, such as network security, data privacy and standardisation. According to the report, few of these issues require immediate regulatory action. At most, the sector's evolution needs to be set against the state of the law to pinpoint those issues that are likely to require regulatory decisions in the more or less near future.

The body of the report contains questions for the sector's stakeholders (which are also listed in the annex), to gain a better understanding of their needs. Market stakeholders are questioned, for instance, on whether there is a need for dedicated M2M frequencies. Other questions concern applying Europe's mobile roaming regulation to the Internet of Things (IoT), operator switching solutions for users, and standards. A question on whether or not there is a need to create a European numbering scheme to enable the development of the IoT is included in the public consultation, following the European Commission queries. Stakeholders are also asked for their views on the best technical solution for users switching their M2M service provider: remote reprogramming of SIM cards using over the air (OTA) technology, or assigning a mobile network code (MNC).

Consultation closes on 6 November 2015

Draft report on OTT (over-the-top) services

In its draft report, BEREC defines over-the-top (OTT) services as "content, a service or an application that is provided to the end user over the open Internet". It divides them into three categories: OTT-0, electronic communication services (ECS) provided over the open internet; OTT-1, an OTT service that is not an ECS but potentially competes with an ECS; OTT-2, other OTT services provided over the open internet but which do not compete with traditional ECS.

This report explores several issues, including the notion of electronic communication services and how it correlates with how OTT services are currently governed. For instance :

  • the draft report states that there are different possible interpretations of whether or not e-mail qualifies as an ECS);
  • whether NRAs have the power to collect information on OTT services as part of their analysis of regulated markets;
  • fair competition between ECS providers and OTT service providers;
  • laws governing OTT-2 services and the issue of partnerships between electronic communication service providers and OTT service providers.

Consultation closes on 2 November 2015

Draft work programme for 2016

The Work programme 2016 that BEREC published for public consultation will be discussed at the forthcoming Stakeholders Forum in Brussels on 15 October 2015. It is due to be adopted officially in December 2015, after having taken into consideration stakeholders' responses, which BEREC will also publish.

This draft programme makes reviewing the regulatory framework a priority, and is built around the roughly twenty strategic priorities for 2015-2017 (see the annex for more information about BEREC's role and membership). The work programme as a whole stresses the need to take into account the issues that are specific to businesses when tackling the various topics and courses of action.

- On promoting competition and investment:

  • Common Position on layer 2 wholesale access products,
  • Expert workshop on regulatory implications of NFV and SDN
  • Workshop on Enabling the Internet of Things - Dialogue with different regulatory bodies
  • Report on migration to all-IP in the access networks
  • Report setting out the Phase 3 broadband common positions on unbundling, bitstream and leased lines
  • Report on the challenges and drivers of NGA rollouts and infrastructure competition
  • Outside report on mergers and acquisitions in the electronic communications sector
  • Workshop on the implementation of Directive No. 2014/61 on reducing the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks (aka Cost Reduction Directive)

- On promoting the internal market:

  • Finalisation of the report on OTT services,
  • BEREC Input to the Commission regarding the implementation of the roaming measures set in out the draft regulation on "Roaming charges and open internet" (1)

- Empowering and protecting end users:

  • Guidelines for the implementation of net neutrality provisions in the draft regulation on "Roaming charges and open internet" (2)
  • Implementation of an (opt-in) internet QoS monitoring system for 2017
  • Workshop on accessibility.

To further the review of the regulatory framework governing electronic communications initiated by the European Commission in mid-2015, BEREC will continue to produce analyses on the different topics surrounding this review process throughout 2016.

Consultation closes on 30 October 2015?

Annex 2 : BEREC

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) is an independent European body that was created by the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament in 2009 during the latest review of the Telecoms Package, and became fully functional in 2011. (3) It replaces the European Regulators Group (ERG) that was created by the European Commission in 2002. BEREC serves as a key advisor to European institutions, a role that was established by European regulation and is now officially recognised.

BEREC is composed of a Board of regulators and seconded by a permanent Office located in Riga, Latvia. The BEREC Chair for 2015 is Dr Fatima Barros, President of the Board of Portuguese regulator, ANACOM. In 2016, her German counterpart, Wilhelm Eschweiler (Vice-president of BnetzA) will succeed her for a period of one year. (4)

Under the terms of Article 2 of Regulation No. 1211/2009 of 25 November 2009 establishing BEREC, the Body is responsible for helping to achieve the objectives of the Telecoms Package (5) and for ensuring that European NRAs apply it in a consistent fashion. It thus contributes to the development and better functioning of the internal market for electronic communications networks.

To this end, BEREC's chief role is to strengthen cooperation between electronic communications regulators in EU Member States and European institutions (Commission, Parliament and Council). It operates as a common working forum between NRAs from the 37 European countries, including the electronic communications regulatory authorities of European Union Member States and nine observers, who are NRAs for the EU candidate countries, European Economic Area (EEA) member countries and Switzerland, which is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). (6)

The heads of EU Member State NRAs meet at least four times a year during plenary meetings, at which reports, opinions issued to the European Commission, Parliament and Council, recommendations and common positions drafted by working groups are discussed and approved. The Board of Regulators meetings are prepared by quarterly meetings of the contact network.

In 2015, BEREC established its strategy for 2015-2017 around three fundamental courses of action: promoting competition and investment, promoting the internal market and empowering and protecting end users. (7) The BEREC work programme for 2015 details the basic pillars of the multi-annual strategy in twenty courses of action that cover wholesale products, virtual access products, the migration to all-IP, analysis of oligopolies, international roaming, over-the-top services, the Internet of Things, the quality of high-speed access and net neutrality, universal service along with other issues that make up the core concerns of electronic communications regulation. (8)


(1) A provisional political agreement was reached on the draft regulation on roaming charges and the open internet in Europe on 30 June of this year between the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament and the European Commission. On 1 October 2015, the Council adopted its position on first reading. The text must now be voted on by the European Parliament. Once adopted, the regulation will come into effect three days after its publication, and will be applicable starting on 30 April 2016 (article 8.2).
As concerns roaming in Europe, the draft regulation establishes a roadmap that ends with the abolition of retail roaming charges in June 2017 for people travelling within the European Union, with a fair use safeguard. BEREC will have an active role in helping achieve this objective, through Commission consultations, preparing a report on wholesale roaming market regulation, drafting a report on sustainability and fair use regulations, as well as updating BEREC guidelines on roaming regulation in the European Union.

(2) The draft regulation establishes the principles of an open internet. BEREC must have adopted the net neutrality guidelines for implementing the obligations incumbent on national regulatory authorities no later than nine months after the regulation enters into force.

(3) For more details on the Telecoms Package

(4) On BEREC's organisation

(5) Objectives set out in Article 8 of the Framework directive No. 2002/21/EC of 7 March 2002

(6) List of BEREC members and observers

(7) For more details on BEREC strategy for 2015-2017

(8) On the BEREC annual work programme

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