IGF 2018 WS #142 Net neutrality vs. 5G and new technological challenges

Salle II

Organizer 1: Jean Cattan, Arcep
Organizer 2: Laura Létourneau, Arcep

Speaker 1: Jean Cattan, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Massé Estelle , Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Luca Belli, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 4: Lisa Felton, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Carol Anderson , Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Jean Cattan

Online Moderator

Laura Létourneau


Jean Cattan


Debate - 90 Min


The session will be organised as a debate where each participants will be asked to provide a series of short remarks on pre-identified issues to define the debate (5 min each, total of 25 min). Participants will be requested to send notes on their comments in advance so a flow can be created in the discussion and debate between speakers will be required. Each speaker will be strongly encouraged to respond to the other parties’ argumentation. The session will thus be focused on a debate between speakers and with the audience in the room and remotely (65 min), The moderator will be promoting the session publicly ahead of time to invite IGF attendees and remote participants to present points to be discussed in the session. See below for online participation. Testimonies from market players (for instance on 5G and interconnection) will be prepared.


The session includes representations from the private sector, governmental institutions, civil society and academia to present a diversity of perspective. Participants from three different regions will be participating to the session: Europe, North America and Latin America. Gender parity will also be ensured. We will thrive to ensure participating from more regions and perspectives through debate with rooms. Luca Belli, from the Center for Technology and Society (CTS) of Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School, Rio de Janeiro, will represent the view of academia. Luca has extensive expertise on Net Neutrality and is the co-chair of the Dynamic Coalition on Net Neutrality. His works have been used i.a. by the Council of Europe to elaborate the Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers on Network Neutrality; quoted by the Report on Freedom of Expression and the Internet of the OAS Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression; and published or quoted by a variety of media outlets, including Le Monde, The Hill, O Globo and La Stampa. Estelle Masse, from Access Now, will represent the views of civil society. Access Now is an international organisation which deferns and extends the digital rigths of users at risk around the world. Through her work, Estelle contributed to the regulatory debates on Net Neutrality in the EU, Brazil, the US and India. Access Now maintains the Global Coalition on Net Neutraly, a coalition of hundreds of NGOs around the world working to advance protection for the openness of the internet. Carol Anderson from AT&T and Lisa Felton from Vodafone will represent the views of telecoms operators in the debate. AT&T is the incumbent operator in the United States and a major global actor in the media and telecommunications sector, in particular in North and Central America. Vodafone is a successful UK-based non-incumbent telecom operator which has grown into a major international player which operates in Asia, Africa and Europe. Jean Cattan and Laura Létourneau both work at Arcep (the French Telecom Regulator). Jean Cattan (PhD in public law, 2012) is the advisor of the Chairman. He has practiced, lectured and been writing on telecommunications law for the last ten years. He is the author of a book entitled "The law of access to electronic communications" (2015). Laura Letourneau is Head of the Open Internet Unit. She holds a Master in executive engineering and management from Mines Paristech. Her book "Ubérisons l'État ! Avant que d'autres ne s'en chargent..." was published in 2015.

The session will address the tensions to the protection of the principle of Net Neutrality arising from the emergence of 5G and the mutation of interconnection practices, for example. While Net Neutrality is central to innovation online, certain actors argue that this principle could hinder the development of enhanced connectivity. The session will aim at bringing facts and evidence to the debate and discuss avenues to ensure that new standards and practices go hand in hand with safeguarding the openness of the internet. Some of the key questions that will be asked in the session will be: - What is so unique about the deployment of 5G for operators and for users? - 5G: How does network slicing - used to create a number of virtual networks - comply with the principle of equal and non-discriminatory treatment of traffic? - How will mobile edge computing and the rise of CDNs modify the current paradigm of interconnection policies? Opposing arguments of civil society, academia and, operators’ under the moderation of a regulator (in charge of net neutrality as Vice Chair of BEREC, the Body of European Telecoms Regulators in 2018) is a way of prefiguring the debates that will take place in the months to follow.

The session will be moderated by a regulator representative. Per se, regulators are used to ensure a balanced representation of views and opinions. They can easily and fairly plan and anticipate interventions to come. The moderator will foster discussion between participants and the audience by identifying issues that need to be clarified and diverging positions that generate debates. As mentioned above, an online pad will accommodate arguments of each side in the form of a table. It may also be completed online by interested persons.

Net Neutrality is a fundamental principle guaranteeing the openness of the internet by guaranteeing non-discrimination in access to the internet. As such, this principle is key to ensure innovation, promote competition and guarantee the enjoyment of human rights online, in particular the right to receive and impart information. While this principle is legally safeguarded in several countries and regions around the world, and put at risk in others, the development of new technologies and standards – such as 5G and new interconnection practices – creates founded and unfounded tensions with the protection of Net Neutrality. In Europe, the Open Internet Regulation will be subject to scrutiny from the end of 2018. In the meantime, regulatory detabes on Net Neutrality continue in India, the United States, South Korea and more. This debate will be an opportunity to highlight the different positions around the key issues that will arise during these exercises. The IGF is a unique opportunity to bring together in a global forum, the many points of view bearing liberty, economic and technical stakes on an issue such as the future of net neutrality.

Online Participation

The moderator will be taking questions from social media to contribute to the discussions and will share the session ahead of time to encourage remote participants to bring up issues to be discussed. An online platform (e.g. discuto.io, used by European institutions such as BEREC) will provide online polling. A discussion pad will be used during the session to ensure the liveneless of the debate and promote interaction with the room and remote participants. It will accommodate the arguments of each side in the form of a table and be used to summarise the discussion. This service may be accessed and used online by interested persons following the debate remotely or not.

Introduction Quick word: 3'
What are we talking about ?  (30') How do we all understand net neutrality and 5G? (30')
What is net neutrality to us (in the various geographical area represented in the panel: US, South-America, Europe) ? What does it imply from a technical, commercial and societal standpoint? (15') 3' per speaker
What is 5G to us? What will it look like? (15') 3' per speaker
What is at stake? (30') How do we all understand 5G’s compliance with net neutrality? (30')
So, is there any problem? (15') 3' per speaker
What would be the remedies? What are the outputs to be drawn from national experiences? (15') 3' per speaker
Discussion 25'
Conclusion Quick word: 2'


Session Time
Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

Pre-Session Synthesis

- Session Type (Workshop, Open Forum, etc.): debate (90min)

- Title: Net neutrality vs. 5G and new technological challenges


- Date & Time: November 13th, 2018/ 11:50am – 1:20pm


- Organizer(s):
Laura Létourneau (regulatory authority)
Jean Cattan (regulatory authority)


- Chair/Moderator:
Laura Létourneau (onsite moderator)
Jean Cattan (online moderator)


- Rapporteur/Notetaker: Jean Cattan


- List of speakers and their institutional affiliations (Indicate male/female/ transgender male/ transgender female/gender variant/prefer not to answer):

Carol Anderson, AT&T - Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG), female

Estelle Massé, Access Now - Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG), female
Lisa Felton, Vodafone - Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG), female
Luca Belli, FGV, Center for Technology & Society - Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC), male

- Theme (as listed here): Technical & Operational Topics

- Subtheme (as listed here): Net neutrality


- [PRE-REPORT] Please state no more than three (3) key messages of the discussion. [150 words or less]

  • With 5G, Internet Service Providers have the technical capability to provide a broad range of qualities of service, tailored to the diverse requirements from vertical applications. Technologies such as network slicing and edge computing allow for the development of several innovations: tele-surgery, automated driving, virtual reality etc.

  • Net Neutrality is a set of fundamental principles guaranteeing non-discrimination in access to the internet. The impact of rules prohibiting or limiting certain practices on the development of cutting-edge broadband services as 5G is a subject of debate.

  • Assessing how Net Neutrality applies to 5G in some concrete use cases is the way of ensuring a sound development of this new technology. This debate should be the starting point of an ongoing dialogue between operators, regulators, civil society and academia.

- [REPORT] Please state no more than three (3) key messages of the discussion. [150 words or less]

- Operators are committed to maintaining an open internet. Operators participating to the debate don’t block or throttle traffic (except as permitted or required by law).

- According to some operators, there is no need to change the European Open Internet Regulation to deal with 5G. Only the BEREC guidelines need to be clarified or amended in some aspects. It is about evolution not revolution.

- Operators believe these changes are needed in order to safeguard the rights of consumers to choose the services they want to access and to maintain a diverse, open and innovative internet ecosystem.

- Please elaborate on the discussion held, specifically on areas of agreement and divergence. [150 words] Examples: There was broad support for the view that…; Many [or some] indicated that…; Some supported XX, while others noted YY…; No agreement…

There is a broad agreement among regulators, civil society and operators that innovation, 5G and net neutrality shall be all promoted.

Net neutrality is enshrined in the constitutional design of the internet, i.e. a general purpose network. It puts intelligence at the edge and is now the basic foundation of democracy and competition.

There has been a discussion on what 5G will bring in addition to previous mobile generation. Operators tend consider that 5G will be quite distinct from previous technologies since it is not about going faster but having more control on many parameters. It may also offer a better reach to rural areas.

On the other hand, emphasis has been put on the fact that 5G, just as 4G, needs infrastructures and deployment. 5G may also take many years to be deployed. Also, the use cases accessible through 5G were already taken into account during the drafting of the Guidelines.

According to some operators, BEREC guidelines create barriers to innovation, by including prescriptive requirements or failing to address new issues – examples given include:

  • Defining “necessary” as a service which does not work on the best efforts internet, which fails to take into account the needs of specific services e.g. agriculture cases which may require higher latency and lower power, virtual reality which may require additional quality to prevent nausea in end users
  • Requiring operators to ensure specialised services will not impact current or future internet access services in advance, which may have the inefficient result of discouraging efficient sharing of network resources and which fails to take into account investment already made in 5G resources
  • Failing to take a technology neutral approach. For example by prohibiting sub-internet offers other than services limited by a device – but failing to make it clear that this does not prohibit other internet of things services , for example, machine to person services set up in the network on the request of the end user (e.g. connected car communicating to a service centre).
  • Addressing new issues such as the fact that this will be the first time that we move to software-managed networks to adjust to users’ needs. New players other than operators may also be able to control the quality delivered.

For the civil society:

  • 5G could be an extraordinary opportunity to increase connectivity but the practical sides need to be examined in more detailed before one can say whether and how it would impact net neutrality. Net neutrality is at the core of the functionning and availabibility of the internet, all new technology should adapt to it. Deploying 5G all over the territory will be extraordinary costly. For long, 5G may only be used as an updated 4G, to which the current framework is perfectly fit to regulate.
  • 5G uses cases presently put forward were already taken into account during the drafting of the Open Internet Regulation and BEREC guidelines and therefore can and should be developed in line with net neutrality. As we don't see the type of changes that would make the technology differ from what has been considered so far, it is more to 5G to adapt to net neutrality, and not the other way round. We need to examine how much these services are so new that we need to rethink the whole structures that has been agreed upon.
  • The framework already makes sufficient room for 5G to be deployed. All frameworks allow differentiated treatment as long as this is not discriminatory, meaning as long as this does not target specific users, services, or applications.  So you can utilize the full potential 5G shaping traffic.  Article 3.3 already states that discriminatory reasonable traffic management is feasible as long it is transparent, it doesn't target specific services and it is justified by the specific nature of the traffic. It is the same thing in Brazil, where  differentiation is possible as long as it is compatible with international standards, meaning IETF standards (RFC 6057 https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6057).

- Please describe any policy recommendations or suggestions regarding the way forward/potential next steps. [100 words]

What is now needed is a common understanding of use cases on one side and of the framework on the other. This is all the more important at a time when the BEREC guidelines and/or the European Open Internet Regulation will be put under examination.

While for operators 5G appears as an opportunity to clarify the standards already integrated in the framework, representatives of civil society and academia highlighted that the framework is technologically neutral and that it is up to 5G to be brought in line with the guidelines. All speakers however agreed that it matters to have more guidance from regulators for operators when offering new services that enable innovation across a range of industrial and consumer sectors.

There was an agreement among all speakers that the EU net neutrality law is a positive framework that should not be re-open or re-negotiated. 5G can be delivered in line with the EU Regulation.

- What ideas surfaced in the discussion with respect to how the IGF ecosystem might make progress on this issue? [75 words]

A multistakeholder approach to the discussion and ongoing review of the BEREC Guidelines would make them more robust, adaptable and future proof.

- Please estimate the total number of participants.

Around 80/90 participants

- Please estimate the total number of women and gender-variant individuals present.

Mostly male (other than on the panel)

- To what extent did the session discuss gender issues, and if to any extent, what was the discussion? [100 words]