Germany Blocks its Largest Telecom Company From Violating Net Neutrality


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Regulators are protecting net neutrality after Telekom—which owns T-Mobile—began prioritizing content.

By Motherboard Staff | MOTHERBOARD

One day after the lost net neutrality battle in the United States, officials in Germany arrived at an important decision. Last Friday, the Bundesnetzagentur, or Federal Network Agency, forbade the company Deutsche Telekom from throttling the streaming speeds of videos as part of its additional StreamOn service. The highest German regulatory officials responsible for issues relating to the internet ordered Telekom to restructure StreamOn accordingly—and to keep all data streaming fair and equal. Telekom criticized the decision as “very puzzling.”

Deutsche Telekom is the parent company of T-Mobile (including T-Mobile in the US).

With the StreamOn option, Telekom customers have the ability to stream songs and videos from certain service providers without it appearing on their monthly data bill, a practice known as “zero rating,” which violates what we traditionally think of as net neutrality. Depending on the chosen package, users are able to access content from Telekom partners like Netflix, Apple Music, and YouTube. The Federal Network Agency didn’t bring up zero rating in its decision, however. Instead, it say that Telekom and StreamOn prioritizes certain types of streaming content. It throttles video (and allows it to be streamed only at standard definition), while prioritizing music and other audio content. The agency argues that video streaming should also be offered at an uncurbed rated.

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