Europe gives operators minor throttling concession

The powers that be in the European Union have said its operators can do a little bit of traffic management if they absolutely have to.

The reason for this minor concession, of course, is that the entire continent is being encouraged, and increasingly compelled, to stay at home the whole time as we try to slow the spread of the COVIS-19 pandemic. Most of them will probably be spending a lot of time streaming video, online gaming and so on, so exceptional levels of both fixed and mobile broadband are expected.

On the demand side, EU bigwigs have been hassling Netflix not to let its customers stream in HD, and now they’re addressing the supply side. A joint statement from the European Commission and BEREC (Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications) addressed coping with the increased demand for network connectivity due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It flags a regulation that prevents operators from prioritising traffic, but notes that it allows a bit of light throttling if there’s a really good reason. “Pursuant to the regulation, operators are 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, always under the condition that equivalent categories of traffic are treated equally,” says the statement.

The long and short of it seems to be that European authorities have given a tentative green light to throttling when needed. However this comes with the implicit threat that if it is suspected that the operator in question didn’t have a good enough reason, or failed to do so in an even-handed manner, then there will be trouble.

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