Almost exactly two years after the FCC repealed the doctrine of net neutrality, AT&T has announced that while streaming services like Netflix and Hulu count against users’ data plan limits, its new streaming service HBO Max will not.
AT&T owns HBO, and HBO Max is its new contender in the market currently dominated by Netflix, Hulu and the more recent Disney+. Under the net neutrality laws that existed prior to June 2018, it was illegal for internet service providers to give priority to bandwidth occupied by their own services.
However, with those rules gone, a vertically integrated media company like AT&T can control the content on HBO and HBO Max as well as the internet services to distribute that content. This gives it an advantage: While Netflix can pay AT&T to disable data caps on its streaming platform, AT&T pays itself, which effectively means not having to pay at all.
Many objected to this kind of scenario in the battles over net neutrality several years ago, saying that vertical integration violates antitrust laws and would ultimately harm consumers.
Between this and the series of corporate mergers between internet service providers and media corporations over the last decade, the media industry has changed in almost every aspect, from the way that movies and TV shows are produced to the way they’re watched in the digital age of streaming. AT&T’s latest tactic may cause a new wave of controversy.
(via The Verge)
AT&T has announced that while streaming services like Netflix and Hulu count against users' data plan limits, HBO Max will not.