Now Sweden stirs up the net neutrality storm

Written by on May 13, 2016 in Guest Blog with 0 Comments

storm-1534331-1279x839Telia zero-rating Facebook has put Sweden in the eye of the Net Neutrality storm.

Critics say that Telia zero-rating Facebook breaks net neutrality and threatens press freedom.  Facebook’s strategy of striking so-called zero-rating deals with telecoms operators, where the operators offer Facebook to their customers without charging for the data usage, really isn’t popular with everyone.

As mentioned here & here, India shut down Facebook’s zero-rating deals on net-neutrality grounds, and now Sweden’s media is up in arms about an arrangement that they claim threatens press freedom—and now it is being investigated by the Swedish telecoms authority.

This time the deal is with Telia, the partly state-owned and market-leading telco in Sweden. According to a joint letter signed last week by 27 Swedish broadcasters, publishers and media associations, the model is a “direct attack on net neutrality” that could ultimately lead to higher prices for accessing the open Internet.

This year, the Swedish press law celebrated 250 years. It is the world’s oldest for general publication and freedom of expression. It was instituted when America was still a small British colony. Freedom of the Swedish Press has survived wars, revolutions and especially the test of time – in a changing world. The Telia zero-rating Facebook drive isn’t even specifically about Facebook — it’s also letting customers surf selected other social networks for free.

Why is Telia Zero-Rating Facebook campaign seen to be such a big threat?

2016.05.10-Zero-Rating-Facebook-by-Telia-Sweeden-all-included-in-the-promotionAccording to the Swedish media complaints, Telia and Facebook are creating a closed system—where a dominant player in the media industry (Facebook) makes a deal with a dominant player in the telecom industry (Telia), giving Facebook an advantage over all other media players that are dependent on the Internet, while giving Telia an advantage over other telecom companies. The rest of the industry is then forced to follow the lead of the two giants who are now setting the rules.

The European Union recently introduced new net neutrality rules that skirt around the issue of zero-rating—despite the best efforts of politicians from countries such as the Netherlands, which already banned zero-rating and now may have to loosen those regulations in order to fall in line with the new EU-wide rules.

According to the Swedish media representatives who signed the letter, the Telia-Facebook deal falls into a legal grey area and is “an attempt to test and push the limits of how far telecom companies can go to control web content.”

Of course, this is hardly the first zero-rating deal in Sweden, which has so far had a light-touch approach to net-neutrality regulation. For example, the mobile operator Three Sweden lets people stream music from services such as Spotify and SoundCloud without the data being deducted from their monthly limit (a similar arrangement to T-Mobile U.S.’s controversial Binge On arrangement for video traffic).

More here, here and here.

This article was first published on Pricing Data Plans.

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About the Author

About the Author: Jonathon has been lurking around the Telecoms and Internet space for the last 20 years. He is now a man on a mission – that being the reformation of the Industry Analyst business. He is working with his co-conspirators on transforming the Industry Analyst world forever as an Expert with EMI. .


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