Vodafone and Three to comply with Ofcom probe into possible net neutrality offences

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Regulator investigates Vodafone Passes scheme amid concerns of illegal internet restrictions

Vodafone is “disappointed” at Ofcom’s decision to investigate its Vodafone Passes scheme. Ofcom launched the investigation on March 6 into the UK MNO and
Three over possible net neutrality offenses.

The telecoms regulator will examine if the two UK operators imposed illegal restrictions on internet traffic while consumers are abroad.

Ofcom stated it will give particular attention to Vodafone Passes – an apps data-saving option introduced late last year – due to fears of incorrect traffic management.

Vodafone said it will fully comply with the investigation. It said in a statement: “We are very disappointed with Ofcom’s decision to target Vodafone Passes.

“We developed Vodafone Passes in direct response to customer feedback and have provided clear information to customers about how they work.

“We will be explaining all of this to Ofcom during the course of their investigation.”

European Union rules state that internet service providers (ISPs) and mobile operators cannot impose non-contractual restrictions on internet traffic.

However, providers may use certain measures to stabilise network efficiency.

An Ofcom spokesperson said: “Following an assessment of evidence gathered under this enforcement programme, Ofcom has decided to open investigations into Hutchison 3G UK Limited (Three) and Vodafone Limited (Vodafone) to assess their compliance with the EU Open Internet Access Regulation 2015.”

Ofcom will look into Three’s practices of device data tethering – where one device is connected to a secondary internet data compliant device – and also examine Three’s approach to imposing restrictions on internet devices that include a Sim card.

Traffic-management practice by Three will also be looked into by Ofcom to ascertain if the operator utilises the “throttling” method – a technique that is used to slow down particular categories of traffic.

Under EU regulations, traffic management polices used by ISPs to mitigate internet traffic issues must be clear and transparent.

Three said in a statement: “We will be working closely with Ofcom to understand their concerns.”

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