UK ISP, Three, doesn’t care about net neutrality and will let you pay for zero-rated, unlimited Netflix

Posted on Jul 7, 2017 by Caleb Chen
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Three, one of the United Kingdom’s (UK) largest telecom and internet service providers (ISP), recently announced a new plan which zero-rates and gives access to unlimited Netflix. Essentially, streaming from Netflix wouldn’t count against a customer’s data usage; however, using other sites such as YouTube or Amazon would. While this may seem like a benefit for Three customers on the surface, the business deal between Three and Netflix is actually a violation of net neutrality, and leads all the way down a very slippery slope.

Three Mobile’s Go Binge plan offers unlimited Netflix, and violates net neutrality

Though the specifics of the plan haven’t been officially revealed by Three yet, a spokesperson confirmed to Wired that they intend to charge extra for this new plan that includes unlimited Netflix. Additionally, the unlimited Netflix plan is only available to existing Advanced customers, or those that already pay for over 4GB per month.

Dave Dyson, a Three executive, explained:

“It’s my ambition to unlock any restrictions that stop consumers from enjoying their mobiles and using them to do the things they love. With Go Binge we are the first network in the UK to give people the freedom to use their data to stream their favourite shows and music without any boundaries and without worrying about restrictive data allowances and charges.”

He also attempted to reassure the public about their net neutrality concerns:

“Net neutrality laws do not prohibit the zero rating of services. Go Binge is an open platform and does not discriminate against other providers.”

That doesn’t change the fact that, to the customer, other providers are de facto discriminated against. In the UK, net neutrality and zero rating rules are set by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), which has clarified that zero rating isn’t illegal and will be evaluated on a case by case basis. As an example, a European ISP named Telia had to stop offering zero-rated Facebook and Spotify last year. As UK and EU privacy and security policies start to diverge in a post-Brexit climate, it’ll be interesting to see whether or not any action is ever taken against Three.

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About Caleb Chen

Caleb Chen is a digital currency and privacy advocate who believes we must #KeepOurNetFree, preferably through decentralization. Caleb holds a Master's in Digital Currency from the University of Nicosia as well as a Bachelor's from the University of Virginia. He feels that the world is moving towards a better tomorrow, bit by bit by Bitcoin.

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  1. Thomas Harris

    I’m a Three customer and would like to leave Three in response to this decision. Who would you recommend switching to? Looking for an unlimited data contract ideally

    3 years ago
  2. mark

    Just because it’s not illegal, doesn’t stop it being a violation of net neutrality.

    “Go Binge is an open platform and does not discriminate against other providers”

    I hope so – if this is free and open to any streaming service, then it’s not so bad. Technically it’s still a violation of net neutrality (data is treated differently), but I think it’s a lesser evil if it doesn’t distinguish between companies. But if it’s only “open” to companies that pay, it’s bad.

    EE have recently collaborated with Apple to violate net neutrality – as part of the desperation to force their failed Apple Music on everyone, it’s now getting zero-rated on EE. Other music streaming is not They’re not even pretending it’s an open platform, but still spin this as something we should be pleased about.

    3 years ago
  3. davecb

    Being a local monopoly, Three can use that power to aid companies like Netflix, who pay them to do so and harm or even block YouTube or Amazon, who do not.

    If you’re a customer, congratulations! You’re being treated like a medieval serf: whatever the landowner says, goes.

    3 years ago