Rotterdam Court rules that operator’s Datafree Music service does not violate European net neutrality rules.
T-Mobile Netherlands has scored a victory in its bid to offer zero-rated music streaming, after the Rotterdam Court ruled that the service does not violate European net neutrality rules.
"This statement is a breakthrough in the Netherlands and in Europe," said T-Mobile Netherlands CEO Søren Abildgaard, in a statement last Thursday.
Launched in October 2016, Datafree Music lets customers stream music from participating services, such as Spotify and Deezer, among others, without it counting against a customer’s mobile data allowance.
It was rolled out on the same day that the Dutch Senate approved amendments to the Telecommunications Act banning zero-rated services on grounds that they violate the country’s strict net neutrality rules. The amendments run counter to those adopted by the European Union, which recommend that national regulators evaluate zero-rated services on a case-by-case basis.
Dutch competition watchdog, the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), investigated T-Mobile, and in December ordered the operator to stop offering Music Freedom, saying it broke the government’s net neutrality rules.
"Dutch law is clear about zero-rating: is it not allowed. That is why ACM is taking action. Zero-rating may harm competition between online services, especially those services that use a lot of data such as Spotify," explained ACM board member Henk Don, at the time.
However, the Rotterdam Court has concluded that the EU’s net neutrality rules take precedence.
"We firmly believed that this (Datafree Music) is in the interests of our customers," Abildgaard said last week. "We can now continue innovating and break through boundaries to give our customers the full freedom of unlimited mobile Internet."