Austria's RTR to investigate A1's new zero-rated service

Wednesday 15 November 2017 | 15:00 CET | News

Austria's regulatory authority RTR has started a procedure against Austrian operator A1, following the introduction of its zero rated streaming service, A1 Free Stream, Die Presse reported, saying the regulator believes the product could violate network neutrality.

In 2014, another Austrian operator, Hutchison Drei Austria, aroused much criticism in the EU with the launch of a Spotify service included in its subscriptions. The operator still provides Spotify. Now, three years later, A1 has come out with another zero rated service which includes Spotify and other streaming services, without charging extra for the data. 

Member states were supposed to implement the EU regulation on open internet until 30 April 2016. Later in 2016, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (Berec) adopted Guidelines on the implementation of net neutrality. Based on these, the operators should by no means prioritise any content on the information highway. Zero rating services have, for example. been completely banned in the Netherlands since 2016. 

Therefore, the regulator RTR has initiated a proceeding against A1.

Thomas Lohninger from the data protection NGO epicenter.works also criticises the new A1's offer. To distinguish among the data services the operator would have to apply Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), which would also be banned by the EU rules.

Markus Grausam from A1 does not see that so seriously. As he said for Der Standard, also other operators across Europe offer such services, without consequences. According to the operator's spokeswoman Livia Dandrea-Bohm, A1 complies with the net neutrality regulation and has previously tested the product for conformity.

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