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Zero-rating and Norway23rd June 2017

Recently two of our major cell-carriers have introduced versions of what they refer to as "Music Freedom". These services work on the premise that data from music streaming services (a rather short list of authorized services) does not count against your monthly quota of data. Obviously these are marketed as a great feature, and heavily advertised towards younger audiences. However services like these have a dark side to them. Consider 5 years ago when Spotify was the reigning champion of streaming. If such practices had been put into place, and popularized, back then it would be a lot harder for services like Tidal and Beats Music to enter the market (released 2 and 3 years ago respectively, Spotify 11 years ago. This selection chosen as these are the only streaming services offered by one of the operators). After a brief e-mail exchange with one of the operators they highlight that this is something which is not strictly illegal in Norway, and the current guidelines are vague on this specific point. Prioritising based on sender, receiver, or content type is currently against the Norwegian guidelines, but the lack of clarity lies with the word "discrimination". Currently it seems to apply solely to speed and delivery, and not to whether or not the traffic is metered (something made clear by the operator who said that both regular traffic and music streaming traffic would be cut equally in speed after the cap is reached). After another brief exchange, this time with NKOM (the Norwegian Communications Authority), they made it clear that this legislation is something which is currently in the works and that their comments were currently limited by this fact, but that the legislation will be based on the recent EU legislation. The EU legislation is however also unclear about this kind of practice, which they recognised and mentioned as one of the points that should be clarified before the Norwegian legislation is put into place.

Wed 28.06 update: heard back from the second operator I e-mailed. Similar answers to the first highlighting the fact that the service doesn't work as soon as you've spent your monthly quota. The problem here seems that the discrimination part only applies to how the traffic flows through the network (so all data must be delivered with the same speed), but not how it's regarded by the operator (some data can be counted while other data is not).

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