Germany’s Federal Network Agency (known locally as the Bundesnetzagentur) has prohibited the marketing of the zero-rating options ‘StreamOn’ offered by Telekom Deutschland and ‘Vodafone Pass’ from Vodafone and has ordered the termination of existing customer contracts. The watchdog said the offers violate net neutrality provisions, as they do not treat data traffic equally. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on 2 September 2021 that the zero-rating options were not compatible with the principle of equal treatment of data traffic, as they do not count certain services and applications towards the data included in a tariff and thus allow unlimited use of them, as opposed to all other services and applications.
The FNA has ordered that new marketing of the two zero-rating options must cease by 1 July 2022 and the providers have until the end of March 2023 to end the zero-rating options for existing customers. It says it anticipates that the overall effect on the German mobile market brought about by the end of the options will be positive, as the trend towards tariffs with higher data volumes and cheaper mobile flat rates is likely to accelerate.