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European citizens demand Router Freedom


A pan-European survey, run by the Free Software Foundation Europe, has collected information from more than 1600 end-users and highlighted several obstacles to Router Freedom, such as lack of freedom of choice, provider lock-in and promotion of equipment running exclusively proprietary software.

Graphic with participants’ level of agreement on Router Freedom principles.
This chart demonstrates the participants’ level of agreement on Router Freedom principles. More than a simple technical issue, Router Freedom is a policy demand

More than a thousand consumers from across Europe have shared their experience of the commercial practices of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the most comprehensive end-user survey regarding freedom of terminal equipment to date, resulting in a call for Router Freedom. The responses from end-users all over Europe demonstrate how network operators still hamper consumer freedom of choice, exercise lock-in over internet equipment and promote proprietary devices, negatively affecting consumer welfare, security, privacy and data protection.

Router Freedom is the right that customers of any internet service provider have to be able to choose and use a private modem and router instead of equipment provided by the ISP. Freedom of choice for routers and modems has been regulated in the EU since 2015 (Net Neutrality Regulation) but national implementation has led to fragmentation of the digital markets, negatively impacting end-users’ rights. The survey demonstrated that Router Freedom is not only a technical issue, but also a policy demand. More than 90% of the survey participants agreed that freedom of terminal equipment is key for net neutrality and open internet, security and data protection, fair competition and digital sustainability.

“The outcome of this survey serves as key insight for policy makers regulating Router Freedom and consumer organisations protecting and promoting the rights of end-users. Critically important are the reported practices that could be considered infringements against Router Freedom. Limitation to freedom of choice, ISP’s lock-in, provision of proprietary devices, security issues and unlawful practices are some of the threats reported against end-users”, states Lucas Lasota, FSFE’s senior project manager.