O2 gets wrist slapped by Ofcom over video streaming quality

UK mobile provider O2 has earned a rebuke from Ofcom after an investigation alleged it had been compressing the quality of videos and images, contravening net neutrality laws.

The regulator claimed O2 failed to provide “accurate and complete” answers following a probe into whether it had deliberately undertaken the practice to manage traffic on its network. EU net neutrality rules require internet service providers to treat all traffic fairly and not impose unnecessary restrictions on the flow of traffic.

As such, Ofcom demanded the the network halts the practice and ensure changes have been implicated by the end of April 2019.

“We have decided that there are reasonable grounds for believing that O2 contravened the requirements imposed in the request by failing to provide accurate and complete answers,” Ofcom said in a statement (via Telegraph).

O2 says any traffic management tactics had been undertaken in order to provide the “best possible network experience” for subscribers. The provider, which has 25 million users in the UK, says the practice is no longer required.

A spokesperson said: “We have historically deployed measures to manage our network traffic to help deliver the best possible network experience for our customers. We no longer need these measures and are in the process of removing them. We have engaged with Ofcom regarding their concerns and are pleased that this concludes the matter.”

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The assurances provided by O2 were enough to avoid a fine from Ofcom, which could have been up to 10% of its annual turnover.

It is thought the company had needed to undertake the traffic management measures because it lacked the spectrum required to sustain the peak performance at busy times. However, last year’s splurge in the 4G and 5G spectrum auctions appears to have negated that need.

Ofcom had also began investigating rival networks Vodafone and Three Mobile over suspected abuses of net neutrality rules, but cleared both companies of wrongdoing.

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