With Net Neutrality revoked by the Trump era FCC, AT&T has launched HBO Max with a feature that’s anti-competitive, according to three senators: not counting the bandwidth used when streaming HBO Max for AT&T subscribers.
This is called “zero rating” for those that didn’t know (don’t feel badly, I was one of them!).
Not counting the data used to watch HBO Max against an AT&T subscriber’s data cap would seem to benefit that subscriber. But the Senators point out that it can hinder competition instead since it would promote the use of HBO Max over other streaming apps that are not zero-rated; those apps would include streamers like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. In their letter, the three Senators wrote, “This practice of allowing one arm of your company to ‘pay’ another arm of your company for preferential treatment attempts to mask its true impact…Senators put AT&T on the hot seat over zero-rating of HBO Max – PhoneArena
I wonder though if this is a really that significant of a benefit to be a non-competitive practice? Think about how many different cell phone companies there are. T-Mobile, Verizon are just two other big names and there are a boatload of smaller ones. Will people really switch carriers to get with AT&T for zero rating of HBO Max? Some might, but we certainly wouldn’t.
We had AT&T once upon a time for cellular service and won’t ever be returning, so count us out. Amazon is doing just fine competing with this zero rating, according to a recent customer satisfaction survey Disney+ and Netflix are #1 and #2 respectively in customer satisfaction.
What do you think? No big deal? Unfair business practice? Attractive customer benefit?