For the time being, Telekom Deutschland GmbH may not continue to operate the “StreamOn” product it offers in its current form. This was the decision of the Higher Administrative Court for the State of North Rhine-Westphalia in summary proceedings brought by Telekom Deutschland GmbH against the Federal Network Agency, thus confirming the first-instance decision of the Cologne Administrative Court.
StreamOn” is a free additional offer for mobile customers. When booked, data traffic for audio and video streaming of so-called content partners of the applicant is not counted towards the inclusive data volume contractually agreed with the mobile rate plan. For certain mobile rates, however, the customer agrees to a general bandwidth limit for video streaming to a maximum of 1.7 Mbit/s, which is no longer sufficient for HD-quality resolution. StreamOn” can also only be used within Germany. When abroad, data traffic for audio and video streaming is always counted towards the inclusive data volume.
The Federal Network Agency found that “StreamOn” violated the principle of network neutrality enshrined in European law and European roaming regulations, and prohibited the continuation of “StreamOn” in its current concrete form. The Administrative Court of Cologne rejected an urgent application by the applicant directed against this. With the resolution announced today by July 12, 2019 pointed the 13th Senate of the Higher Administrative Court also rejected the complaint of the applicant.
The 13th Senate explained that the principle of net neutrality obliges providers of Internet access services to treat all data traffic equally. This would be violated if the transmission speed for video streaming was deliberately throttled compared to other services or applications. Since the principle of neutrality protects a fundamental operating principle of the Internet for the benefit of all users, it is also irrelevant whether the customer consented to throttling by booking “StreamOn”. In addition, European roaming rules prohibit charging an additional fee over the domestic retail price for roaming services in other European countries. The applicant violates this prohibition insofar as it counts data traffic for audio and video streaming for use in other European countries as part of the inclusive data volume, in contrast to use in Germany. For the customer, this would mean a less favorable charging mechanism for use in other European countries. Since the Federal Network Agency’s decision is likely to be lawful for these reasons, it can also be implemented before a final decision is reached in the main proceedings.
The decision is indisputable.