In a recent announcement, T-Mobile confirmed that they are planning to offer the latest streaming service from AT&T, DirecTV Now, for free to the customers, who switch from the wireless service of Ma Bell. Reports indicate that T-Mobile might have a done an unintentional favor to AT&T through this offering. AT&T cited this as a proof that their latest venture helps in “competitive process at work, driving innovation, lowering prices, and increasing consumer value.”
It is to be noted that AT&T is allowing their wireless customers to access DirecTV Now without eating up their data limit. This offering from AT&T was severely criticized by many analysts, and the FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau had earlier asked the telecom provider for an information request. A letter was written by the telecom provider in order to defend their decision to waive DirecTV Now data fees.
The FCC reached a “preliminary conclusion,” on the issue and they recently stated that the zero rating plan from AT&T to favor their online streaming platform might “inhibit competition, harm consumers, and interfere with the ‘virtuous cycle’ needed to assure the continuing benefits of the Open Internet.”
The concern is that other streaming service providers such as Hulu, Sling TV, and Netflix, will find it difficult to compete with AT&T, as the provider is allowing their customers to stream and watch their contents without exhausting their data limit. This might violate the net neutrality rules set by the FCC.
However, AT&T Federal Regulatory SVP, Joan Marsh, called the view of the FCC bureau as a radical departure from settled law with “no plausible basis” for their conclusion. AT&T officials further stated that neither DirecTV Now nor their wireless service “is or could conceivably become a monopolist in any relevant market.”
They also added that if they charge their wireless customers for accessing these services, then “consumers would be substantially worse off.” Marsh added that they “are more likely to perceive DirecTV Now as a cable substitute if, as with cable, they can consume as much of it as they like without worrying about overages.”
However, reports indicate that if the bureau decides to officially oppose the pricing of AT&T before January 20, then it “will very likely be reserved shortly thereafter.” T-Mobile CEO John Legere stated that both DirecTV apps and DirecTV Now would be freely streaming on T-Mobile with a much advanced network, which nearly covers every American citizen.