FCC recently told AT&T that their policy of exempting videos from mobile data caps by their subsidiary DirecTV Now service could be violating the rules of net neutrality. FCC has also sent a letter to AT&T regarding this.
AT&T charges the other content providers if they need to be a part of their “Sponsored Data” program and be exempted from the data caps, but they do not charge their own affiliate business, DirecTV. The practice of allowing their customers to view videos and some of the applications without charging data is called zero-rating and FCC claims that the praise could be hindering competition and “may harm the open Internet, such as preferring [its] own or affiliated content [and] demanding fees from edge providers.” FCC said this in their letter to AT&T, citing the Open Internet Order.
The Commission is challenging the main reasons of AT&T acquiring DirecTV: being able to offer varying packages to customers without any additional costs. However, CEO of AT&T, Randall Stephenson, said that the deal with DirecTV offered “a unique opportunity that will redefine the video entertainment industry and create a company able to offer new bundles and deliver content to consumers across multiple screens – mobile devices, TVs, laptops, cars and even airplanes.”
AT&T might also be planning to offer similar data offers with content from the entertainment and media company Time Warner Inc. AT&T has agreed to take over Time Warner for 85.4 billion US dollars, said Eric Jhonsa, technology reported of Street magazine. Yet again, Jhonsa noted that, “One big question, of course, is whether the FCC’s stance will stay the same after [President-elect Donald] Trump (a net neutrality opponent) takes office.”
Trump criticized the move of President Obama just after Obama started pushing for the net neutrality rules in 2014. Trump said that it was “another top-down power grab,” and calling it an “attack on the internet.” Experts say that Trump’s victory in the Presidential Elections may lead to a massive roll back in net neutrality regulations.
Other companies also agree that the days of net neutrality are numbered. CEO of Dish Network, Charlie Ergen, said that he expects the regulation will be reviewed under the presidency of Trump. “You may see net neutrality be challenged or weakened going forward,” Ergen said. “It is certainly possible that, with the election and with the leadership in Congress, that all of net neutrality might blow up.”