Today the British consumer organisation Consumer Focus published its report “Lost on the broadband super highway – Consumer understanding of information on traffic management”. Traffic management might sound like a technical term, but it has great implications. Some would argue that increased transparency about the term can safeguard the principle of the open internet, drive switching and enhance competition in the broadband market.
In its study Consumer Focus investigated the question whether improving information on traffic management will be sufficient to guide consumer purchasing decisions, and whether consumers will be able to understand complex technical information and assess what type of traffic management policies will affect their internet use.
The study shows that increased transparency alone is unlikely to safeguard effectively the open internet and prevent discriminatory restrictions online. The research finds that consumers are not aware of traffic management practices, and even if they find information on traffic management restrictions on providers’ websites, they cannot digest the meaning of unfamiliar terms such as P2P or VoIP.
Consumer Focus concludes that there was a need to extend the existing regulatory framework by additional non-blocking and non-discriminatory principles that would clarify which type of traffic management is legitimate. Furthermore, broadband providers need to do more to raise awareness of traffic management through improved marketing of information to customers. This was the only way to ensure consumers can use the broadband connection of their choice to access the internet and any legal online content and applications they wish, free of negative discrimination, and to protect the innovation.
Source: Consumer Focus