EC gives EU operators permission to throttle back online traffic | Infrastructure | News | Rapid TV News
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The Body of the European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC) and the European Commission have authorised the EU’s telecoms operators to apply exceptional traffic management measures to prevent impending network congestion.
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The order came a day after European Commissioner for internal markets Thierry Breton contacted Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to ask for the subscription video-on-demand service to end broadcasting content in high-definition and switch to the substantially less network-intensive SD so as to assist the millions of additional workers who have been forced to use home networks and use collaboration and teleworking tools in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Explaining the purpose of his actions, Commissioner Breton said in a tweet “teleworking and streaming help lot but infrastructures might be in a strain. To secure Internet access for all, let’s #SwitchToStandard definition Internet when HD is not necessary.”

The SVOD leader subsequently agreed to the appeal and has decided to begin reducing bit rates across all streams in Europe for 30 days, a move it says will reduce its traffic on European networks by around 25% while still also ensuring a good quality service.

Complementing such action, and to mitigate the effects of exceptional or temporary network congestion, the EC and BEREC said in a joint statement that they were participating in the collective effort to support companies continuing their activities and keeping citizens in contact through the internet during these unprecedented times. They noted that operators were playing a critical role in the crisis response. Many operators have already taken measures in order to cope with the abnormal traffic distribution linked to remote working and online education and were already redistributing network capacity on regional and local networks according to the changed traffic pattern both in terms of time slots and in terms of geography.

To assist their efforts in supporting such workers, the bodies said the under the EU Open Internet Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2015/2020 Article 3.3), operators are now authorised to apply exceptional traffic management measures, inter alia, to prevent impending network congestion and to mitigate the effects of exceptional or temporary network congestion. This is under the condition that equivalent categories of traffic are treated equally.

To ensure regular monitoring of the internet traffic situation in each Member State the European Commission and BEREC, with the support of National Regulatory Authorities or competent authorities, are setting up a reporting mechanism, through which to ensure a follow-up on the evolution of traffic and user experience.
“We are currently not seeing any major congestion problems and network operators seem to be coping well with the higher traffic load in the networks. But we nevertheless need to stay vigilant and be ready for if the situation changes,” remarked BEREC chair Dan Sjöblom.

“This is an extreme and unprecedented situation we are witnessing and we have seen over the past couple of days just how quickly things can change. BEREC is in the process of establishing a special reporting mechanism and we will clarify how this will work in further communication. We expect this work to be ready soon, as we are not looking to build a completely new monitoring structure, but rather strengthening already existing mechanism for information sharing among national regulatory authorities.”