Ofcom has updated its guidance on net neutrality. It says that net neutrality supports the "open internet", ensuring that users of the internet (both consumers and those making and distributing content) are in control of what they see and do online - not the broadband or mobile providers (i.e. internet service providers). The net neutrality rules make sure that the traffic carried across broadband and mobile networks is treated equally, and particular content or services are not prioritised or slowed down in a way that favours some over others. Ofcom says that it wants to ensure that net neutrality continues to support innovation, investment and growth, by both content providers and ISPs.
The current net neutrality rules are set out in legislation. Any changes to the rules in future would be a matter for the UK government and Parliament. Ofcom is responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the rules and providing guidance on how ISPs should follow them.
In 2021 it started a review of net neutrality. Its review has found that, in general, it has worked well and supported consumer choice as well as enabling content providers to deliver their content and services to consumers. However, there are specific areas where it has updated its guidance to provide more clarity to enable ISPs to innovate and manage their networks more efficiently, to improve consumer outcome.
ISPs can offer premium quality retail offers. Allowing ISPs to provide premium quality retail packages means they can better meet some consumer's needs. For example, people who use high quality virtual reality applications may want to buy a premium quality service, while users who mainly stream and browse the internet can buy a cheaper package. Ofcom's updated guidance clarifies that ISPs can offer premium packages, for example offering low latency, as long as they are sufficiently clear to customers about what they can expect from the services they buy.