Netherlands Bans T-Mobile's Zero-Rated Music Service

While zero-rating has been standard practice in the United States for the last couple of years, it still isn't a common occurrence on the Old Continent seeing how most European governments are relatively strict when it comes to regulating zero-rated services. Back in early October, T-Mobile Netherlands introduced one such service for streaming music called Music Freedom, but the company was ordered to discontinue its latest product over net neutrality concerns. The order was officially issued last Friday by the Dutch Consumer and Markets regulator known as the AFM. This government agency explained how T-Mobile's "free" music streaming service is clearly violating the country's net neutrality laws as it puts competing services at a disadvantage. The AFM's reasoning is that existing T-Mobile customers will be more inclined to choose the company's own service that doesn't count towards their monthly data cap over rival products, which is why this Dutch agency labeled the move as anti-competitive and ordered the subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom to discontinue Music Freedom as quickly as possible.

Furthermore, the AFM said it will fine T-Mobile Netherlands €50,000 ($52,000) per day for each day the company refuses to stop offering the controversial music streaming service. The Dutch agency told Reuters it's expecting the carrier to challenge this decision in court, and a press release from T-Mobile Netherlands published on Friday pretty much confirms this. Namely, the wireless carrier asserted that Music Freedom meets all of the European net neutrality requirements, adding that it has no plans of discontinuing it until it exhausts all legal remedies for reversing the AFM's decision.

The main issue here is that the Dutch authorities recently enacted a regulatory landscape explicitly forbidding zero-rating. However, the general EU rules are more ambiguous when it comes to this practice, kind of like the US ones are. So, T-Mobile Netherlands is now claiming that its service isn't discouraging people from using rival products, concluding that it's consequently not violating the European net neutrality rules. Seeing how the AFM clearly disagrees with that stance, it will probably be a while before the two battle this out in court. In the meantime, T-Mobile will continue to offer Music Freedom to all of its customers in the Netherlands.

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Dominik Bosnjak

Head Editor
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016 and is the Head Editor of the site today. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]
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