It is shown that the German Government is enforcing a strict data traffic management policy that limits the speed of video-sharing services in case there is a national network congestion.
Many advanced countries such as the U.S., EU, and Japan are operating semi-emergency measures in order to prepare for a sudden increase in data traffic and network congestion stemming from COVID-19.
Although South Korea is successfully dealing with COVID-19 based on the world’s best telecommunications infrastructures, it is too early to relax. Many believe that the government needs to analyze what kind of actions other advanced countries are taking and utilize them as references.
◊Germany and other European countries actively managing data traffic
According to Korea Information Society Development Institute’s report on “advanced countries’ actions on their telecommunications fields towards the spread of COVID-19”, it hints that the German Government is ready to take technological measures through its “guideline on network traffic management” such as managing data traffic when there is a network congestion.
The guideline states that data traffic will be guaranteed for services such as voice call that require a certain level of quality and connectivity.
It also states that although the government can limit data traffic for services such as video streaming that cause an excessive amount of traffic, it cannot limit data traffic only for certain businesses.
The government announced that it could allow measures such as limited data transmission speed and temporary zero rating stoppage that can be applicable for everyone in the country in some cases.
It presented specific examples that allow exceptions while maintaining “network neutrality”. Network neutrality prohibits any discrimination in network quality and speed. It is expected that there will be changes to global regulations due to the fact that video-sharing services such as YouTube and Netflix that cause an excessive amount of data traffic are subjected to traffic management under the German law in case of emergency.
EU is also continuing to put in efforts to tighten its data traffic monitoring and management systems due to COVID-19.
European Commission and Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications stated that it can take necessary traffic management measures according to the Open Internet Regulation if internet traffic continues to rise due to COVID-19.
Their statements indicate that internet speed can be limited for video-sharing services that cause an excessive amount of traffic and affect the entire network while guaranteeing the network neutrality principle.

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◊The U.S. eases its regulations to guarantee connectivity
Related to telecommunications welfare for vulnerable groups, the U.S. Government presented relaxation of regulations that requests voluntary participation from the public as a carrot.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) signed “Keep Americans Connected Pledge” with 700 telecommunications companies that include Verizon and AT&T to deal with COVID-19. The agreement includes grace period for service termination due to unpaid fee, reduced late fee, and public Wi-Fi Hotspots. As a response, Verizon and AT&T have voluntarily implemented various measures such as additional data.
At the same time, FCC is providing support measures through “Keep Americans Connected Initiative”.
In order to guarantee internet connection in rural areas, FCC is temporarily supplying the 600 MHz band to 33 wireless internet providers. Prior to this, FCC allowed major telecommunications companies such as Verizon, T-Mobile, and US Cellular to temporarily increase their frequencies by borrowing unused frequencies from broadcasting communications companies that are nearby.
FCC presented its own financial support measure for securing telecommunications networks for the medical and academic fields such as providing $200 million to expand information service telecommunications networks for public medical groups.
While emphasizing freedom for the public, the U.S. Government is working on establishing a voluntary cooperation model that strongly requests cooperation in case of national emergency situations.
◊The Japanese Government induces participation from the private sector
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Japanese Government included COVID-19 to its “Special Measure Act for new flus” and established a legal ground that can declare an emergency situation depending on the spread of COVID-19.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced “the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications’ measures towards the new coronavirus” and requested necessary measures and help from the private sector. It announced various support measures such as extension of the deadline to pay a fee for using radio wave, extension of the deadline to pay a telecommunications fee, and introduction of telecommuting system regarding the government’s policies on telecommunications.
As a result, major mobile telecommunications companies such as NTT DOCOMO, KDDI, and SoftBank and major MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) such as UQ Mobile and LINE Rakuten showed their intentions to participate in the government’s request and decided to extend their payment deadlines up to 3 months when there is a request from a customer and have increased the amount of data that they provide.
The Office of Communications (OFCOM) of the United Kingdom is focusing on securing internet connection to guarantee internet connection and for telemedicine and is requesting cooperation from the country’s telecommunications companies.
Advanced countries’ actions on their telecommunications fields focus on guaranteeing internet connection for vulnerable groups and tightening traffic management and monitoring in case of a sudden increase in data traffic.
Although countries have yet to take actual actions from a traffic management aspect, South Korea needs to rapidly examine its policies and take actions in case the situation prolongs.
Although there is a voluntary cooperation between South Korean telecommunications companies regarding guarantee of internet connection, it is shown that South Korea is weak in policies regarding providing a grace period for payments and others compared to other countries. It is seen that the South Korean Government needs to look into introducing necessary systems on a premise of preparing strict standards to select groups that are actually struggling with living.
“Although we have yet to observe any meaningful network congestion overseas, foreign countries are preparing necessary measures in order to prepare for unexpected issues.” said Korea Information Society Development Institute. “They are working on measures that guarantee continuous internet connection for vulnerable groups that are affected the most by COVID-19.”
Staff Reporter Park, Jisung |