Friday, April 23, 2021

AT&T blames net neutrality law for making HBO Max count against data caps

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AT&T has ad that subscribers will no longer be able to stream HBO Max without data counting against their caps, and blamed California for the situation net neutrality laws. “We regret the inconvenience to customers caused by California’s new ‘net neutrality’ law,” the company wrote. “Because the internet does not recognize state borders, the new law not only ends our ability to provide California customers with such free data services, but also has a similar impact on our customers in states beyond. beyond California. “

California’s net neutrality law was passed in 2018, but only recently cleared for execution after a judge beaten down challenges by the state’s largest Internet providers. The law prohibits a practice called zero-rating, which allows operators like AT&T and Verizon (Engadget’s parent company) to exclude their own content from data caps, essentially putting other streaming services at a disadvantage.

Operators are also prohibited from offering zero-charge pricing or speed prioritization (“express lanes”) for certain services. When AT&T ad that it would exclude HBO Max from its data caps last year, it mentionned that Netflix and any other streaming service could also be excluded – provided they pay a fee.

People should be free to choose which videos they want to watch – whether it’s Netflix, Twitch, or their local church’s Sunday service, without the company they pay to connect trying to influence their customers. choice.

AT&T suggested the law was hostile to its customers and said (like before) that he is in favor of “clear, consistent and permanent” federal net neutrality rules. “A patchwork of state regulations, many of which are too restrictive, create barriers to creative and pro-consumer solutions,” the company wrote. “We provide the content and services our customers want because it’s what they want, not because it’s mandated by regulation.”

California lawmakers, however, said last month that the zero rate and other priority pay plans are very hostile to consumers. “The ability of an Internet service provider to block, slow down, or speed up content depending on a user’s ability to pay for a service degrades the very idea of ​​a competitive marketplace and the open transfer of information to the Internet. heart of our increasingly digital and connected world, ”said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

Barbara van Schewick, professor at Stanford University, who has long advocated for net neutrality, also said that AT&T’s elimination of the HBO Max zero rating is actually a good thing for consumers. “This is a victory for an open and free Internet, including for competing video services and Internet users,” she wrote. “People should be free to choose which videos they want to watch – whether it’s Netflix, Twitch or their local church’s Sunday service, without the company they pay to connect trying to influence. their choices. “

van Schewick added that zero pricing prompts ISPs to keep data caps low and expensive unlimited plans. “For example, in the European Union, ISPs that do not offer zero-rate video give subscribers 8 times more data for the same price as ISPs that use zero-rate video,” she said. note.

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