Ofcom Warns O2 UK Over Response to Traffic Management Probe

o2 uk mobile sim

The telecoms regulator has warned O2 (Telefonica UK) that there are “reasonable grounds” for believing that they failed to provide “accurate and complete answers” as part of last year’s investigation into the mobile operator’s Traffic Management practices on their 3G and 4G network.

At present the EU’s related Net Neutrality rules are applied using a self-regulatory approach in the UK via the 2016 Open Internet Code. This requires providers to treat all internet traffic equally without discrimination, restriction or interference (here). Essentially the code means that broadband ISPs and mobile operators cannot impose excessive restrictions against legal internet traffic, albeit with caveats for network management and security purposes etc.

In keeping with that Ofcom is understood to have raised a number of concerns with O2 last year, which resulted in the operator providing signed assurances and committing them to making a number of key changes by 30th April 2019.

O2’s Planned Changes

* To stop compressing streamed video content across their network, which is known as ‘rate control’; and

* To stop compressing any web content or images to manage traffic.

NOTE: O2 also confirmed that it has stopped using the Vasona platform to prioritise video and social media traffic when there is temporary congestion on the network. In addition, O2 also provided written assurances that:

* It will not reinstate these (or any similar) traffic management practices without telling us and updating its website first; and

* It will write to Ofcom as soon as possible, and no later than 30 April 2019, to confirm its compliance with these commitments.

The regulator was satisfied with those assurances and has chosen to take no further action, although they have decided to challenge O2 over the operator’s initial response (in February 2018) to a related information request about its Traffic Management practices (here).

According to Ofcom, O2 may have “failed to comply with the obligations imposed in the Request, by not providing accurate and complete information in its initial response.” The regulator has now issued O2 with a notification of their findings and will give them an opportunity to respond, before publishing their final decision.

Ofcom has various powers to require changes or impose penalties upon providers that don’t follow their rules.

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