AT&T discontinues 'sponsored data' due to California's net neutrality law

From CNET: AT&T is ditching its "sponsored data" service for some of its video streaming apps as a result of California's net neutrality law, which prohibits operators from favoring their own services and content over competitors' offerings.

AT&T said in a blog post Wednesday that the state law bans "sponsored data" services, otherwise known as "zero-rated" plans. This feature allows AT&T wireless customers on tiered data plans to use AT&T services like DirecTV or AT&T TV without eating into their monthly data allotment. Meanwhile, other streaming video services, like Netflix or Amazon Streaming, do count against monthly usage.

"Unfortunately, under the California law we are now prohibited from providing certain data features to consumers free of charge," AT&T said in a blog post. "Given that the Internet does not recognize state borders, the new law not only ends our ability to offer California customers such free data services but also similarly impacts our customers in states beyond California."

The news comes after a federal judge last month said he would not block California's law, which is considered the strictest set of net neutrality protections to date, surpassing protections that had been adopted during the Obama administration. The California law passed in 2018 bars internet service providers from blocking or slowing down internet access. This was the main part of the 2015 Obama rules, but the California law also outlaws "zero-rating" or "sponsored data" offers, which allow carriers to exempt certain services from counting against a user's data cap.

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