The so-called « zero fees », which offer unlimited data, can « limit the exercise of users’ rights », according to the CJEU.

Some of the main mobile operators have been offering data packages for some time that can be consumed unlimitedly by just paying a little more. That is, by paying an extra amount per month the user would obtain data that is not consumed. However, in this sense, the European Court of Justice (CJEU) has given the operators a stick by stating that « They violate the neutrality of the Internet ».

In an official document, the European Court of Justice has ruled that mobile operators cannot put some services ahead of others, as in the case of calls « Zero fees ». A response resulting from a consultation by the General Court of the Capital to find out how apply the regulation in one of these cases.

This is the screen of the Samsung Galaxy Note20.

The CJEU communicates in its letter that “the company Telenor, established in Hungary, offers, among others, Internet access services, among which two preferential access packages (“ zero rate ”) whose particularity is that data traffic generated
For certain specific services and applications, the volume of data contracted by customers is not discounted.
Also, once that volume of data is consumed, customers can continue to use these applications without restrictions and services, while the other available applications and services are subject to measures to block or slow down traffic ”.

The so-called « zero fees » can « limit the exercise of users’ rights »

A user making a call with a Sony Xperia 10 Plus.

After initiating two procedures in order to control the conformity of said packages, the operator was informed that said rates “did not respect the general obligation of equitable and non-discriminatory treatment of neutrality of the European Union network (Regulation 2015/2120) ”. Furthermore, it is the first time that said Regulation has been interpreted in a judgment, which “establishes the essential principle of the opening of the Internet (more commonly called ‘Net neutrality’) « .

The well-known “zero fees” collide with the Article 3 of the Regulation -the rights of end users of Internet access services must be exercised “through their Internet access service”, without limiting the exercise of these rights- and the neutrality of the Net. The Court of Justice itself states that “ the conclusion of agreements by which certain customers contract packages that combine a ‘zero rate’ and measures to block or slow down the traffic associated with any application or service other than those subject to said zero rate can limit the exercise of end users’ rights« .

In the same way, the European Court of Justice affirms in its statement that these packages can make the use of the apps contemplated in the different offers grow, to the detriment of other services that are not integrated. Therefore, the speed reduction of data rates « technically makes this use difficult [la de los servicios ajenos a los paquetes] or even makes it impossible ”. It should also be noted that the Court informs that the limitations imposed on the services not included in said packages are due to « business decisions ».

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