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Volume 508: debated on Thursday 25 March 2010

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills if his Department will bring forward proposals to ensure that internet protocol throughput is not subject to traffic management measures; and if he will make a statement. (323546)

There are several legitimate reasons why a network provider may need to introduce traffic management measures, particularly in order to avoid network congestion; ensure delivery of e-mail services or to avoid poor performance. There is currently no evidence that network providers in the UK are using traffic management in illegitimate ways.

The legitimate uses of traffic management are recognised by the new provision in Article 22 of the Universal Services Directive which addresses “Quality of Service” issues. Article 22.3 states that:

“In order to prevent the degradation of service and the hindering or slowing down of traffic over networks, Member States shall ensure that national regulatory authorities are able to set minimum quality of service requirements on an undertaking or undertakings providing public communications networks”.

Recital 34 suggests that such measures

“should be subject to scrutiny by the national regulatory authorities, [...], in order to ensure that they do not restrict competition”

This Department is currently working on implementing this and related provisions, and will be consulting in due course.