Austrian telco A1 Telekom Austria must make adjustments to its zero-rating tariff option Free Stream.
The Austrian Telekom-Control Commission (TKK) decided after examining the offer that the throttling of the bandwidth during video streaming (“traffic shaping”) violates the EU rules on net neutrality. The rules prohibit such “disadvantageous traffic management measures” in customers’ data streams, according to TKK.
In the opinion of the regulator, the product Free Stream itself, however, does not violate the EU’s net neutrality rules as not deducting the data traffic generated by certain services from the customer’s data allowance is not explicitly prohibited, but permissible within certain limits.
“It’s an important task of the national regulatory authorities to examine whether the rules of the EU’s regulation on net neutrality are being complied with,” said Austrian telecoms regulator Johannes Gungl. “With this decision, TKK is in line with the regulatory authorities of other EU member states.”
With the Free Stream tariff option launched in mid-November 2017, A1 mobile customers can use selected video and music streaming services without using up the data volume included in their tariff. According to the telco, any interested legal streaming provider can join the partner programme.
A1 Telekom Austria has to terminate the proscribed video bandwidth throttling within a period of eight weeks from the date of delivery of the regulator’s notification. The telco stresses that it reserves the right to take legal action against the regulatory decision as it does not share its legal view.
Zero-rating is also a controversial issue in neighbouring Germany: The German Federal Network Agency recently prohibited parts of Deutsche Telekom’s zero-rating service StreamOn. Vodafone’s counterpart Vodafone Pass is still being examined by the authority.