T-Mobile can continue data-free music streaming service: court

Teens sharing earphones (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget)Teens sharing earphones (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget)

T-Mobile's data free music bundle does not violate net neutrality regulations, the court of Rotterdam ruled on Thursday. The Dutch telecom company can therefore keep offering it to its clients, NU.nl reports.

The telecom company turned to court after the Dutch Authority for Consumer and Market (ACM) ordered T-Mobile to suspend the service in December. According to the ACM, data free music streaming is in violation of Dutch net neutrality, making it detrimental for competition among internet services.

The court ruled that T-Mobile can keep its service. While zero-rating - certain services falling outside data bundles - is not allowed by Dutch law, it is by the European rules on net neutrality. And the Netherlands is not authorized to go against the European rules, the court decided.

T-Mobile CEO Soren Abildgaard called the ruling a "breakthrough in the Netherlands and in Europe". He added that the court ruling gives clarity on how to deal with zero-rating in the Netherlands. 

Interest group Bits of Freedom is not happy with the ruling, spokesperson Daphne van der Kroft said to the newspaper. "You can imagine that we are very disappointed in this ruling", she said. "Minister Kamp [Economic Affairs] was crystal clear at the implementation of the law: 'that is not allowed in the Netherlands'. It is now extra important that the ACM appeals to ensure that there is an explanation for this."

The ACM said in response that it is pleased the court ruling gave some clarity on zero-rating in the Netherlands. A spokesperson was not sure whether the organization will appeal. "The ACM has another six weeks to decide whether to do so or not. We will first study the ruling carefully", he said, according to NU.nl.