Commercial practices of Internet Services Providers (ISPs) to exclude certain applications and services from being counted against customers’ data caps, a practice known as Zero-Rating, are arguably creating an economic incentive for users to prefer zero-rated apps and services. These commercial behaviors are under scrutiny on both sides of the Atlantic, but the way regulators are actually tackling the issue differs. While in the U.S., California’s net neutrality law prohibits ISPs from engaging in discriminatory Zero-Rating, the European Union’s net neutrality law only sets up a general obligation of equal traffic treatment. AT&T’s recent decision to end its Zero-Rating program across the U.S. shows that U.S. ISPs are ready to adapt their commercial strategies to strict net neutrality rules.
The European Union (EU) is dealing with Zero-Rating through the prism of the first court case from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on the topic.