Smartphones, tablets, voice assistants... Are devices the weak link in achieving an open internet?
Dec 11, 2017
Arcep launches a public consultation with courses of action it wants assessed before publishing its full report in February 2018
Paris, 11 December 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 new stage in the investigation on devices, involving all stakeholders
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. Since then, Arcep has continued to meet with stakeholders (developers, equipment suppliers, users, etc.) to understand their different points of view. To this end, it held several hearings and hosted a series of thematic workshops.
• App stores, transforming connectivity, data portability: Arcep workshops dedicated to the different stakeholders
Over the course of October and November 2017, Arcep hosted three dedicated workshops:
• "Let's design the ideal app store!" - 9 October 2017 at Numa
Arcep brought together content publishers, developers and designers to create the "ideal" model for making their services available, as much with respect to financial terms and conditions as technical and contractual ones. Technical solutions such as progressive web apps make it possible to lift certain restrictions imposed on content and service providers.
• "Back to the future! Let's design tomorrow's devices, in light of past successes and failures" - 13 November 2017 at Tank
This workshop for equipment suppliers and OS developers was an opportunity to look back at several milestone decisions and to think about how we expect devices to evolve, about how connectivity systems will be transformed, about the future of specialised devices…
• "Are we being held hostage by our operating systems? A round-up of available solutions" - 24 November 2017 at Cap Digital
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, the loss of certain apps or services when switching to a new environment, etc. With the help of the workshop's participants (user representatives), Arcep was able to take stock of existing obstacles, but also solutions for making it easier to switch devices.
• Arcep delivers the findings of its hearings and workshops, and continues to query the sector
In its consultation document, Arcep:
• Delivers the main messages to emerge from its meetings and workshops; • Shares the questions raised during these encounters; • Requests feedback on the future courses of actions it wants assessed.
Arcep invites stakeholders to share their comments on these topics before 10 January 2018, by sending their contributions to: [email protected]
• Arcep will release its complete report an international event on 15 February 2018
Following the public consultation, Arcep will publish an in-depth report on 15 February 2018. It will be presented at an international event in Paris.
This second report could then serve as the starting point for drafting suitable regulatory measures to be introduced at the national or European level.