Q&A: QPP for European mission critical organisations

Following TCCAs recent white paper on the topic, BDBOS legal advisor/data protection officer Martin Erhardt and Michael Rühlemann, also from BDBOS, discuss potential issues around QPP for European mission critical organisations using commercial broadband
Q&A: QPP for European mission critical organisations

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Can you give an overview of the EU legislation which has prompted the white paper. What is the relevance of mission critical broadband to the discussion around net neutrality? 

The EU legislation that prompted the white paper was the net neutrality regulation, also known as TSM-regulation. The regulation has a lot of positive aspects for regular users, because it limits the ability of MNOs to block or alter access to the internet, especially for monetary reasons.

But right now, it also limits the ability of PPDR - which are in most cases dependent on commercial networks for their broadband solutions - to be prioritised, or get a certain quality of service. Under consideration of the goals of the TSM-regulation, this was certainly not intended.  

How long has this issue been on the horizon? 

It depends on the country you are addressing. The TSM-regulation has existed for eight years already. At that point, for most countries it was not clear, that they would be reliant on commercial broadband solutions.

That has changed in the last years. For a lot of countries, it´s simply too expensive to build a standalone broadband network. The use of commercial broadband networks seems like a good solution to harmonise financial limitations and the needs of PPDR. But it also brings other, in this case, legal limitations. These need to be evaluated and that is the work we are doing at LRWG. 

What will be the likely factors in the different interpretations of the TSM regulation? How does the situation differ - for instance - between the UK (being outside the EU) and Finland or Germany? 

The interpretation concerns the exceptions of the TSM-regulation. Some countries are reading [the TSM-regulation] as absolute. You can´t make any exceptions.

Others see the possibilities for national solutions. In my opinion, this creates a problem for the European regulator, especially if you consider the efforts in the EU to make cross boarder communication possible. If you don´t have aligned interpretations, it will be difficult to establish cross-boarder communication within the EU. 

Why would there even be an issue around QPP for mission critical users?

The TSM-regulation prohibits the MNOs from using traffic management measures. Even though there are some exceptions, in most cases they shall not be to the detriment of other end users.

To guarantee QPP for PPDR in crisis situations, the PPDR would be reliant on those measures. It could also be the case that end users get kicked out of the network or experience worse quality.

What is TCCA’s role in achieving modifications to the regulations at EU level in relation to this? What can you do, and what are you doing? 

The TCCA can make efforts on an international level for better rules for PPDR. The white paper is a first start to make our opinion known to the EU and to the public. This is important because some of our problems are not that prevalent with the EU regulator. 

The group has already started work on the compilation of another white paper. That will deal with the legal and regulatory aspects relating to resilience of physical infrastructure. The focus will be on technical resilience.

First, we will collect and evaluate existing laws and regulations from the individual countries. As with the first white paper, recommendations for adjustments or harmonisations could then be made.  A white paper on the subject of ‘international roaming for PPDR communication’ is currently also being planned.

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