The Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) has launched a public consultation regarding the implementation of the “Network Neutrality Guidelines” and invited stakeholders and concerned parties in the State of Qatar to provide their views and comments on any of its aspects, as well as to a set of relevant questions.
Network Neutrality is an important principle, which ensures that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) treat all lawful internet traffic equally, without discrimination, restriction, or interference, independently of its sender or receiver, content, application or service, or terminal equipment.
CRA considers Network Neutrality to be a principle where all end-users in Qatar should have the ability to access and distribute lawful digital media of their choice via their Internet Access Service. For CRA, this principle is key to achieve the objectives in its strategy. This principle applies irrespective of the terminal device used, location of the end-users or the origin or destination of the content.
Currently, Qatar has provisions referred to as Applicable Regulatory Framework (ARF), that already require ISPs to comply with the principle of Network Neutrality. However, CRA sees it is important for the market to understand how these provisions should be interpreted and, in the event of any cases arising, applied to achieve CRA’s vision and strategy effectively.
To that end, CRA’s draft Network Neutrality Guidelines (the Guidelines) aim to provide guidance to all parties on the practices CRA considers acceptable and are in line with the existing provisions of the ARF. CRA does so by providing examples of the practices it sees acceptable. It also explains the approach that will be followed in assessing different types of practices, should it be called upon to investigate alleged breaches of the Guidelines as it relates to Network Neutrality.
CRA sees that the Guidelines will deliver multiple benefits, such as benefiting end-users like businesses and residential customers as well as digital media providers and the local IT sector, by promoting nondiscriminatory access to digital media, and promoting market competitiveness and growth in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) markets through nondiscriminatory access for all players. It will also provide clarity on the Network Neutrality principle and allow Service Providers to innovate and develop commercial models within these boundaries and this, in turn, will contribute to developing the telecommunications sector and promoting national, social, and economic development.
Other benefits include highlighting the openness and competitiveness of the digital sector in Qatar to potential foreign investors; thereby helping CRA directly in achieving its targets in terms of increased level of adoption and usage of digital media and increased digital transformation of business and organizations.