Not only does this let AT&T give its own services an unfair advantage in the market, the approach lets deep pocketed companies pay AT&T to be exempt from usage caps. Consumer groups say this creates an unfair marketplace where bigger, wealthier companies can buy an advantage over their smaller, cash-strapped competitors—once AT&T gets its cut.
But because California’s new net neutrality law puts an end to such preferential treatment, AT&T now says it’s discontinuing “zero rating” nationwide, a move applauded by consumer advocates.
“Let’s be clear: This is a win for an open and free internet, including for competing video services and internet users,” Stanford Law Professor Barbara van Schewick said of the shift. “People should be free to choose which videos they want to watch—whether that’s Netflix, Twitch or their local church’s Sunday service, without the company they pay to get online trying to influence their choices.”