In 2023, Dutch telecom operator T-Mobile stopped offering its zero-rating service ‘Data-free Music’ (in Dutch: Datavrije Muziek) after the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) had pointed out, following a ruling of the European Court of Justice, to T-Mobile that this service violated the Open Internet Regulation. In addition, ACM as part of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communication (BEREC) gave its input in the discussion on the telecom operators’ plan to introduce a fee for large streaming services for the delivery of internet traffic. These are some of the highlights of ACM’s 2022 Annual Report on Net Neutrality.
In order to ensure that the internet continues to be able to evolve freely and independently, all internet service providers in Europe must comply with the Open Internet Regulation. This means they are not allowed to block or unnecessarily restrict internet traffic. This is called net neutrality. Each year, ACM
publishes the Annual Report on Net Neutrality in which it explains what it has done over the course of the preceding 12 months with regard to guaranteeing net neutrality.
T-Mobile phases out zero-rating service
Dutch telecom operator T-Mobile offered the zero-rating service ‘Data-free Music’ (in Dutch: Datavrije Muziek) to existing customers. In 2022, ACM held various conversations with T-Mobile, impressing on the company that they had to phase out this service. Zero-rating services, which means that providers do not charge anything for data traffic involving certain types of content or applications, are not allowed if a distinction is made on the basis of types of data traffic categories. This has been the result of a revision of the relevant guidelines of BEREC. On March 31, 2023, T-Mobile stopped offering the service altogether, and offered its customers a suitable alternative.
ACM and net neutrality
ACM keeps a close watch on net-neutrality developments, and works closely together with other European regulators in BEREC. For example, ACM contributed to BEREC’s response to the European proposals regarding the introduction of a fee for large content providers on the internet. Furthermore, ACM together with other European regulators are monitoring the increase in Wi-Fi offered on planes. Providers of such internet access services, too, will have to comply with the rules on, for example, traffic management measures and transparency.
Over the next twelve months, ACM will continue to look into new reports regarding compliance with net neutrality rules. Everyone has the opportunity to file a report regarding net neutrality with ACM. They can also do so anonymously. ACM will take action where needed.