Impact of California ‘Net Neutrality’ Law on Free Data Services

AT&T Blog Team
March 17, 2021
Internet Protection


Impact of California ‘Net Neutrality’ Law on Free Data Services

California has enacted a “net neutrality” law banning “sponsored data” services that allowed companies to pay for, or “sponsor,” the data usage of their customers who are also AT&T wireless customers. Unfortunately, under the California law we are now prohibited from providing certain data features to consumers free of charge.

Prior to California’s law, sponsored data customers were able to browse, stream and enjoy applications from sponsors without using their monthly data allowance. AT&T video providers utilized sponsored data to offer Data Free TV, allowing customers to stream their favorite movies and shows over their AT&T wireless service without it counting against their wireless data plan.  AT&T Mobility has for years openly invited any entity to become a wireless data sponsor on the same terms and conditions. Since it began, our sponsored data service, and competing offers from other wireless providers, have delivered significant benefits and saved consumers money. Consumers also have enjoyed an explosion of video streaming services.

We regret the inconvenience to customers caused by California’s new “net neutrality” law.  Given that the Internet does not recognize state borders, the new law not only ends our ability to offer California customers such free data services but also similarly impacts our customers in states beyond California.

A state-by-state approach to “net neutrality” is unworkable. A patchwork of state regulations, many of them overly restrictive, creates roadblocks to creative and pro-consumer solutions. We have long been committed to the principles of an open Internet. We deliver the content and services our customers want because it’s what they demand, not because it’s mandated by regulation. We also believe Internet access should be available and sustainably affordable to all Americans, and strongly advocate for Congress to adopt federal legislation to make that possible while providing clear, consistent, and permanent net neutrality rules for everyone to follow.