6 June 2019: VTKE at the BEREC Workshop on Net Neutrality: The 'socket on the wall´is the network termination point
The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) held a workshop in Brussels on 29 May 2019 as part of the review of the guidelines on net neutrality.
The Alliance of Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Manufacturers (VTKE) took part, giving a presentation which referred to the provision in Article 3 (1) of Regulation EU 2015/2120 that end-users have the right to “use terminal equipment of their choice”.
Despite this clear legal obligation and the mandate given in the guidelines to national regulatory authorities to investigate abusive behavior, in some European countries network providers are restricting their customers’ freedom of choice of terminal equipment.
The future BEREC guidelines should ensure a consistent implementation of the right of end-users to choose their terminal equipment. The VTKE points out that, even for future network topologies and technologies, and in particular for the upcoming high-speed networks, telecommunications terminal equipment is characterized by the direct connection to the physical transmission medium of the subscriber connection. The electrically/optically passive socket to the local loop (telephone, coaxial or fiber line) fulfils all legal requirements for a network termination point and only this passive socket realizes the required freedom of choice of terminal equipment for the consumer.
In addition, it should be obligatory for network providers to provide end-users with the access and/or configuration data necessary to connect their terminal equipment to the network in order to enable the use of all contractually agreed services.
28 February 2019: Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs blocks free choice of terminal equipment (press release)
In response to a parliamentary request, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs declared that it will not implement the so-called “beleidsregel netwerkaansluitpunt”, which defines the network termination point (NTP) in more detail. The NTP determines where the provider’s network ends and the private and/or commercial customer’s own network begins. The current decision prevents internet users in the Netherlands from being able to determine for themselves which terminal device – router, modem – they use for their internet access.
This turnaround is incomprehensible for the Alliance of Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Manufacturers (VTKE): The Dutch government had long been committed to promoting the free choice of terminal equipment and had conducted a public consultation on the subject between December 2017 and February 2018. The main argument of the network operators that a free choice of terminal equipment would have a negative impact on the functionality and security of their networks was refuted in an expert opinion commissioned by the government in the autumn of 2018.
In the view of the VTKE, there are therefore no grounds, either in terms of content or time, for preventing implementation. The VTKE sees the “socket on the wall” as the network termination point as the basis for consumer freedom of choice. This definition is already standard in some countries, where it leads to product innovation and open competition. In addition, the free choice of terminal equipment is explicitly provided for in EU law.
The VTKE campaigns to secure the success of the liberalization of the telecommunications market in general, and, in particular, to restore the free choice of terminal equipment.
16 January 2019: VTKE welcomes European guideline on the identification of the network termination point
The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) will draw up new European guidelines for determining the network termination point (NAP). The NTP is the point of connection for telecommunications terminal equipment. Already in five countries (Germany, Italy, Netherlands (planned), Cyprus, Latvia) the NTP is defined as the “socket on the wall”, guaranteeing freedom of choice when it comes to terminal equipment. In the mobile communications sector, the free choice of terminal devices, such as mobile phones or LTE routers, has been both the norm and an innovation driver for years.
The Alliance of Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Manufacturers (VTKE) sees the “socket on the wall” as the NTP as the basis for consumer freedom of choice. This definition of network termination point is already standard in some countries, where it leads to innovative products and open competition.
As a comprehensive basis, BEREC published the document BoR (18) 159 “Location of the Network Termination Point”, which provides an overview of the current status of the definition of an NTP in European Union member states.
Since 1 August 2016, users in Germany have been able to freely select their terminal device. Competition for the best end device – such as routers, telephones, telephone systems, alarm systems etc. – has led to a greater variety of innovative, high-performance products on the market in recent years. This is of particular benefit to users. They can use the products that best meet their needs when it comes to performance, functionality and security.
The guidelines for determining the NTP will now be developed by a BEREC working group, followed by a public consultation.