An (alb) dream comes true: finally stream infinitely

Since the end of 2017 inclusive volumes in Germany are really in vogue. Almost all major telecoms providers have introduced an additional feature that allows apps to be used on the go without depleting valuable mobile data. Sounds good at first – because nobody likes the notifications that you are surfing only throttled. However, this triggered a dangerous process that could turn the Internet into a two-tier system over the long term.

More freedom while surfing

No question, telecom and Vodafone users benefit from being able to stream videos, music and games at will, without the increased data consumption on the monthly bill noticeable. With Telekom contract conclusion it does not matter, for example, how much one streams mobile with Netflix, Prime video or also the ARD Mediathek. At Vodafone, on the other hand, you decide on a group of apps (video, music, social or chat), which can then be used continuously without being charged for data usage.

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Disadvantageous price developments

In the jargon, this practice is also referred to as “zero rating”. The mobile service providers thus distinguish between exempted data volume for specific services and a monthly volume limit for the rest of the Internet. According to a study by the Fundamental Rights NGO Epicenter.Works and Mozilla, 186 out of 225 network operators in Europe alone offer corresponding services – four out of five providers and only in Finland and Bulgaria. The worrying detail: Only in countries without a zero rating did the mobile phone price drop by eight percent, while it rose by two percent everywhere else. No wonder, because a corresponding tariff leads to an appreciation, which can be marketed well.

With all your might

The privacy advocates and net activists criticize in their study but one more point: Among the services that fall most frequently under the regime for free use, namely, are all the major platforms that would be expected in such a list (WhatsApp, Netflix , YouTube & Co.). So they all use their market power to negotiate good deals and get users more connected. The lack of clearly have small providers who want to make a name yet and cheerfully credited to the data volume.

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20190401 Network neutrality
(Screenshot: epicenter.works)

Of the 20 services most frequently involved in the Zero Rating Program, only three are EU companies. The PDF is here.

Net neutrality, anyone?

With their zero rating offers, telecommunications providers are therefore clearly violating the important principle of net neutrality. They have created a consumer system that keeps getting higher fares so that low-income users are marginalized and still favor large content providers. This does not have much in common with a classic flat rate. And the Europe-wide principle of equal treatment of data, services and devices on the Internet is disregarded.

Europe has screwed up

Stupidly, the EU has only set the course for corresponding offers. In exchange for the end of roaming charges, it is the mobile operators namely in this matter accommodate. Unfortunately, in the zero-rating offerings, the transmission rates are being throttled and the “Roam like at home” principle has been undermined. Because the crediting of the partner services on the inclusive volume must of course “end for economic reasons” with the national borders. It was not planned that way. The Federal Network Agency is therefore for years in the legal dispute with Telekom, Vodafone & Co. – without really moving forward. For sanctions are either not enforced or are anything but deterrent.

Clear the way for the information superhighway

We should also take a closer look at cloud providers like AWS from Amazon. In contrast to the public infrastructure for mobile communications, private providers with their own global network are not regulated at all. And AWS has recently announced a data prioritization to bring movies, music and games even better and more reliably – for a fee, of course. The question now is how much longer will we enjoy higher data rates and lower load times with rising prices and less choice on the internet.

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