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Information on the use of internet traffic management techniques must be made clearer and easier to understand, Ofcom has warned.

The media regulator said consumers should be kept fully informed about the ways broadband providers deal with online congestion.

Ofcom noted that traffic management can be beneficial in some circumstances – for instance to protect safety-critical traffic – but service providers must not seek commercial gain.

The body has warned the broadband industry that it may introduce a minimum level of consumer information under the revised European framework, unless industry practice improves.

This framework, implemented into UK law in May 2011, contains a policy objective to promote net neutrality – the principle that all web traffic should be treated as equal.

Ofcom has set out a basic level of information which broadband providers should deliver to their customers at the point of sale, including average speed information, details about the impact of any traffic management services, and information relating to any specific services that are blocked.

The regulator added that terms used by broadband providers to describe their services should also be clear.

"In particular, a consumer paying for 'internet access' should expect this to include the full range of services available over the open internet," Ofcom stated.

Ed Richards, Chief Executive at the regulator, said the web plays "an important role" in the lives of citizens, consumers and industry.

"We now expect and depend on access to the content and services it has to offer," he stated.

"How broadband providers control access to the internet affects us all and it is important that we are able to understand how our access might be restricted."

Mr Richards said Ofcom is looking to the industry to ensure transparent information is available at all times, and will consider intervention if necessary.

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