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Telia's free data offer under scrutiny

Published onsdag 27 april 2016 kl 17.15
PTS: Telia gives special treatment to certain types of traffic
(2:18 min)
En Teliaskylt vid en butik. Foto: Lars-Gunnar Olsson/Sveriges Radio.
Telia is being scrutinised over a free internet data offer. File photo: Lars-Gunnar Olsson/Sveriges Radio.

The mobile network operator Telia could potentially be breaching new EU net neutrality regulations by offering free mobile data for social-networking services.

Telia offers its customers free mobile internet data for Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, Kik and Twitter as part of a campaign against online bullying. Customers receive the free data only if they agree not to engage in hateful behaviour online.

But favouring specific services in this way could be a breach of new, EU-wide net neutrality rules that come into force on May 1st and Telia’s offer is now being scrutinised by the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS).

According to Emma Närvä at the PTS Competition Department, the offer could have a bearing on several of the new rules.

“What is clear to us is that their offer gives special treatment to certain types of traffic, so that is something we’ll have to look into further,” Närvä told Swedish Radio.

The net neutrality rules were adopted by the EU last year, and are based on the principle that all internet traffic be treated equally. According to the rules, no online content, apps or services must be blocked or promoted.

PTS has received an exceptionally high number of complaints against Telia’s offer since it was introduced last week.

Jonas Hasselberg, head of consumer services at Telia, said Telia is well aware of the new EU regulations, and told Swedish Radio he welcomes the investigation.

“There’s obviously an uncertainty about what is within the framework of net neutrality, what we can and cannot do. And we welcome that debate,” Hasselberg said.

The mobile network operator Three is already under scrutiny for a similar offer, which allows customers free mobile data for music streaming services. In contrast to Telia, however, Three is up for review for potentially breaching integrity regulations when determining what services customers are using.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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