Telia Company AB is Sweden’s biggest telecom provider and last spring it offered its users an offer that allowed them to have unlimited access to Instagram, Spotify, Facebook and other similar applications.
The regulators in Sweden tried to stop this offer arguing that it violated the net neutrality rules in EU that require all internet providers to allow equal access to all of the internet. In this plan, once the data cap of the user is reached, Telia would restrict all the applications except the big ones.
The offer is still available but the issue is now working its way through courts. Similar deals are on the verge of coming up in United States as well.
This Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission is going to vote on rolling back the rules of net neutrality in the US. While EU has similar rules in place, many telecom providers have found loopholes and pushed boundaries in countries like Portugal, Germany and Sweden and those offer a glimpse into America’s future if such protections are removed.
Ajit Pai, the FCC Chairman, wants to remove these net neutrality rules to allow internet service companies to charge their users more for certain content and also restrict content to other websites. ISPs might also charge some companies for delivering their content more quickly as compared to other websites.
When Netflix entered the European market, some telecom companies forced the company to pay a toll for delivering content to their customers. There are many offers like the above mentioned ones known as zero rating plans, circulating in the EU market. Internet Providers in Portugal have started splitting the net into separate packages for messaging, social media, videos, music, email & cloud, etc.
All this could be seen in USA if FCC nullifies the net neutrality rules. Many businesses don’t have the funds to compete with deep-pocketed competitors and this might mean the end of their businesses. We would know more after the FCC vote.