DT flirts with net neutrality controversy

Deutsche Telekom has begun flirting with net neutrality controversy, as the telco giant unleashes a number of zero-rating offers for customers in Germany.

MagentaMobil customers can now use StreamOn to listen to music on their smartphone and watch video from various partners, without affecting the data limits included in their contract. While there have been a number of zero-rating offers to hit the headlines in recent months, the majority have been limited to the US market, however more examples are starting to creep up on this side of the pond.

“With StreamOn we are about to revolutionize the German mobile communications market,” said Niek Jan van Damme, MD of Telekom Deutschland. “This new offering is another step along the road to giving our mobile customers unrestricted use of audio and video content while on the go via the best mobile network.

“We’re adding even more services into our MagentaMobil contracts – and doing so without adding a cent in extra cost for the customer, who can now listen to their favorite songs to their heart’s content, as well as being able to watch their favorite shows and sports events live.”

Apple Music, Amazon’s Music Unlimited and Prime Video, napster, Netflix and Sky Go are a number of the services on offer currently, though there is potential for this list to expand substantially. A new partner programme has also been launched which doesn’t seem to have many limitations for the moment, presumably if you are prepared to pay Deutsche Telekom for the privilege.

“There’s no restriction: any provider of legal audio and video content can become a partner,” said Michael Hagspihl, Head of Consumer. “The StreamOn partnership is open to any interested party.”

It’s an interesting move from a country which would usually be associated with conservativism, as the jury is still out on whether zero-rating offers are contradictory or complimentary to competition in the telco market. While there are valid arguments on both sides of the debate, the move from Deutsche Telekom could certainly prompt intervention from German regulators, known to be one of the strictest worldwide.

Over in the US, one of the arguments which has been raised is whether zero-rating offers which promote a telcos own content channels is fair-game when it comes to competition. Here, it would appear Deutsche Telekom has tried to avoid this conflict, as the services which are on offer all seem to be third parties; some people may argue the concept of zero-rating contradicts the principles of the internet, though at least Deutsche Telekom is not using the offer to promote its own content above the competition. It’s all about the cash.

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