Germany’s Federal Network Agency has prohibited parts of the zero-rating option StreamOn in Deutsche Telekom’s mobile phone tariffs.
The decision will ensure compliance with European rules on roaming and net neutrality, according to the regulator.
“StreamOn can still be offered by Deutsche Telekom. In the interest of consumers, however, it is necessary to adapt the configuration,” explained Jochen Homann, President of the Federal Network Agency. “StreamOn must comply with the roam-like-at-home principle and customers must have video streaming available in an unthrottled bandwidth.”
“In the customers’ interest, we ensure that StreamOn meets the requirements regarding roaming and net neutrality. The stipulation of equal treatment is a cornerstone of European regulations on net neutrality. The principle of equal treatment has made the internet an innovation driver,” added Homann. “The diversity of applications and services benefits all consumers. The ban on throttling video streaming not only safeguards the diversity of the internet, but also strengthens providers of video streaming services offering high-resolution content.”
With StreamOn, the data volume consumed is not deducted from the customers’ inclusive volume if the audio or video services of content partners are used. In certain tariffs, however, the video streaming data rate is reduced to SD resolution when the customer has opted for StreamOn. In the opinion of the regulator, this is not permitted.
All tariffs with the StreamOn option must also be redesigned in such a way that consumers within the European Union can benefit from the roam-like-at-home principle, according to the authority. The data volume used by StreamOn must no longer be deducted from the data allowance of the tariff in other EU countries.
In October 2017, following an examination of StreamOn, the Federal Network Agency already found violations of the roaming and net neutrality rules and asked Deutsche Telekom to comment on the situation and resolve the issues.
The telco has until the end of March 2018 to implement the adjustments. If Deutsche Telekom fails to meet its obligations on time, the regulator may impose a penalty payment.
Deutsche Telekom doesn’t accept the Federal Network Agency’s decision. “In the interest of our customers, we see no reason to deviate from our legal opinion at present and will therefore file an objection,” a Telekom spokesman told Broadband TV News. “By taking legal action, we will fight to ensure that our customers can continue using StreamOn – also during the legal clarification.”
“Today’s decision is clearly against customers’ interest because it threatens the economic basis for a free service. The authority’s decision is therefore completely incomprehensible,” added the spokesman. “There are no complaints from partners or customers – on the contrary: the number of partners (currently 153) continues to grow each month. For our customers and partners nothing will change for the time being. StreamOn is a free product that is very popular with more than 700,000 customers. We have a weekly growth of around 20,000 customers.”