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Portuguese ISPs ignore telecom regulator?s recommendations

November 20, 2019 In Design News,Digital Freedom

In 2018, the Portuguese telecom regulator ANACOM told the three major
Portuguese mobile Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to change offers
that were in breach of EU net neutrality rules.  Among other things, the
regulator recommended that ISPs publish their terms and conditions,  and
increase the data volume of their mobile data packs in order to  bring
it closer to their zero-rating offer. In Portugal, average mobile  data
volumes are small, yet among the most expensive in Europe. ANACOM?s net
neutrality report that was published in June 2019 reveals how the ISPs
reacted to the regulator?s intervention.

While operators have complied with ANACOM’s decision on differential
treatment of traffic after the general data ceiling has been exhausted,
that was as far as they went. Regarding the increase of data volume, all
three major operators simply ignored ANACOM?s demand. None of them
changed their offers. One of the operators claimed, instead, that “the
current ceiling is adjusted to the demand”.

Then, ANACOM had asked the ISPs to publish the terms and conditions
under which other companies and their applications can be included in
the their zero-rating packages. The result: All operators ignored this
recommendation, too.

Surprisingly, the regulator?s reaction was lukewarm, at best. Instead of
strongly criticising the ISPs for not complying to its recommendations,
it stated that it ?will continue to monitor all matters concerning these
recommendations?, and that this will be followed up with ?further
analysis in the context of net neutrality [?]?.

Portuguese EDRi observer D3 Defesa dos Direitos Digitais regrets the
lack of will and courage on the part of ANACOM to put an end to the
harmful practices of ISPs. Zero-rating harms consumers and free
competition by tilting the playing field in favour of a few selected,
dominant applications, and it constitutes a threat to a free and neutral
internet. By not acting against price discrimination practices between
applications and restricting its action to technical discrimination of
traffic, ANACOM shows no intention to act on the underlying problem of
zero-rating offers.

The result is that in Portugal, mobile data volumes are on average
small, and the prices are among the highest in Europe. Users suffer from
an over-concentrated market ? three major ISPs share 98% of the market.
In this setting, the leading companies can afford to ignore the
regulator’s public recommendations without practical consequences. The
legislator has not introduced the fines for net neutrality infringements
that are mandatory under EU law since 2015.

This article is an adaptation of an article published at:

D3 Defesa dos Direitos Digitais

Portuguese ISPs given 40 days to comply with EU net neutrality rules

Civil society urges Portuguese telecom regulator to uphold net
neutrality (23.04.2018)

(Contribution by Eduardo Santos, EDRi observer D3 Defesa dos Direitos
Digitais, Portugal)