Deutsche Telekom must charge for its zero-rated StreamOn service

News

German operator falls foul of network neutrality and roaming rules according to the Higher Administrative Court for the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

This reinforced the decision taken previously by the lower Administrative Court of Cologne.

Deutsche Telekom (DT) said it intends to continue offering a charged-for version of StreamOn, which was a free add-on service for DT’s mobile customers.

Through deals with various content partners, the bandwidth consumed by the streamed services bandwidth were not deducted from customers’ monthly data limits.

Customers’ consent

To gain certain mobile rates, customers had to agree to a limited speed of 1.7Mbps for video streaming, which does not support HD quality.

Another of the court’s objections was that the service was only intended for use within Germany, and if customers used the services abroad, what they consumed was deducted from their data allowance.

A series of defeats

The Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur or BNetzA), which regulates telecoms, decided that StreamOn violated network neutrality as defined in European law and in violation also of the European Union’s roaming regualtions.

The Administrative Court in Cologne turned down an appeal by DT against the BNetzA’s decision.

This was supported by the Higher Administrative Court, which dismissed DT’s complaint against the lower court’s decision and this decision is final.

No throttling

The judges explained that the principle of net neutrality obliges internet service providers to treat all data traffic equally, whereas the StreamOn service was throttled.

The court also ruled that it was not relevant that customers had agreed to this as a condition of using the service.

Further, the practice contravened European roaming rules, under which it is forbidden to charge more for roaming services in other European countries than what they cost in their home market.