German regulator Bundesnetzagentur banned Deutsche Telekom’s StreamOn offer and the Vodafone Pass on net neutrality grounds, with the operators given strict deadlines to stop selling and eventually discontinue the services for existing users.
In a statement the regulator cited a European Court of Justice (ECJ) declaration in September 2021 which had found the two deals contravened European Union rules on net neutrality.
The ECJ provides guidance in such cases with the national authorities left to make final judgements and take appropriate action.
Bundesnetzagentur has given operators until 1 July to halt marketing and stop selling the deals to new customers. Existing users must be taken off the offers by end-March 2023.
The move brings to an end a long-running row into the legality of the plans.
Vodafone Pass and StreamOn give users unlimited access to specific content without being charged for data, with the content varying depending on the bolt-on selected.
Net neutrality rules state all traffic must be treated equally regardless of its origin.
Bundesnetzagentur president Klaus Muller said it was “putting a stop to the unequal treatment of data traffic associated with zero-rating options” adding he expected “providers will now offer tariffs with higher data volumes or cheaper mobile flat rates, which will benefit consumers”.
Following the ruling, a Deutsche Telekom representative told Mobile World Live (MWL) it was dismayed by “the discontinuation of the zero rating offer for around 4 million satisfied users and the almost 500 StreamOn partners”.
“At the same time, Telekom will continue to enable high data consumption and the best user experience with fair tariffs.”
A Vodafone Germany representative told MWL it was in the process of analysing the detail of the order and “will communicate any further actions if required in due course”.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back