On 20 November, Covington hosted its webinar looking at developments in Net Neutrality and Zero-rating from both a US and a European perspective. Our presenters included ex-FCC Bureau Chief, Partner Matt DelNero from our DC office, and ex-DG Competition Head of Unit, Partner Kevin Coates and Senior Associate Siobhan Kahmann from our Brussels office. The webinar was well attended, with participants from all major jurisdictions around the world.

Matt covered the wider area of Net Neutrality and its evolution in the US over the last fifteen to twenty years, including an overview of the rules currently in effect, which are slated to be repealed next month…

He then focused on the US Net Neutrality debate in 2017, and the Restoring Internet Freedom ‘Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ‘ issued in May this year – which received over 22 million comments. He discussed the principal arguments for and against the FCC’s proposal to overhaul the net neutrality framework in the US, and finished his part of the presentation with an overview of what’s next – providing some different scenarios to consider ahead of the FCC’s upcoming next move. (Just two days later, the FCC made the text of its draft order publicly available.)

Kevin and Siobhan then looked at the Net Neutrality debate from the European perspective. This included an overview of the Net Neutrality Regulation and the BEREC Guidelines, before focusing on zero-rating, a concept which has been the subject of much regulatory debate in the EU.

Zero-rating is an offer from a mobile operator where data used by certain apps or groups of apps will not be deducted as data usage from a customers’ cap – it is charged instead at zero, or free. The BEREC documents set out Guidelines as to what is acceptable and what is not. Notwithstanding the Guidelines, national European regulators have taken different approaches to applying the Net Neutrality rules. DG Competition is also following this area closely and commissioned a detailed Report on developments in Europe earlier this year.

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Photo of Siobhan L.M. Kahmann Siobhan L.M. Kahmann

Siobhan L.M. Kahmann has extensive experience advising on a range of competition issues, including cartel investigations and leniency applications, complex vertical distribution issues, European and multi-jurisdictional merger control filings, abuse of dominance claims, and competition compliance. Her practise includes providing wide-ranging and detailed…

Siobhan L.M. Kahmann has extensive experience advising on a range of competition issues, including cartel investigations and leniency applications, complex vertical distribution issues, European and multi-jurisdictional merger control filings, abuse of dominance claims, and competition compliance. Her practise includes providing wide-ranging and detailed advice on digital platforms and e-commerce in a competition context.

Photo of Kevin Coates Kevin Coates

Kevin Coates advises clients on critical antitrust matters drawing on his extensive public sector experience in the Directorate-General for Competition of the European Commission (“DG COMP”), most recently as Head of a Cartel Unit.

His practice has a particular focus on advising companies…

Kevin Coates advises clients on critical antitrust matters drawing on his extensive public sector experience in the Directorate-General for Competition of the European Commission (“DG COMP”), most recently as Head of a Cartel Unit.

His practice has a particular focus on advising companies in the electronics, technology, software and e-commerce sectors.

Mr. Coates advises on all aspects of EU, UK and international competition law, including merger control, compliance, cartels and leniency, and abuse of dominance.

Mr. Coates served as Head of a Cartel Unit at the Directorate-General for Competition (“DG Comp”) at the European Commission between 2012 and 2016. Prior to this, he held several positions within DG Comp, over nearly 20 years in total, including advising the Director General of DG Comp on policy and communications issues, and overseeing competition cases in the telecoms and media sectors. While working for the Director General he was one of the team that produced the Guidance on Enforcement Priorities under Article 102.

He was also a visiting research fellow at NYU School of Law in 2009-2010.

Prior to joining DG Comp, he served as in-house Counsel at AOL Europe where he was responsible for antitrust and regulatory issues for AOL subsidiary companies in the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands.

Mr. Coates is the author of “Competition Law and Regulation of Technology Markets” published by Oxford University Press in 2011.

Mr. Coates is co-chair of Covington’s Internet of Things (IoT) group, and leads the firm’s Brexit Task Force.