AT&T this week unveiled its DirecTV Now internet TV streaming service. At first glance, it’s a boon for customers. The service is zero rated, which means streaming video won’t count toward your data cap with AT&T. Beneath the surface, however, is something sinister.
According to a scathing piece from the Verge, AT&T’s latest move is effectively “declaring war on an open internet.” Here’s how the Verge sees it:
AT&T’s zero rating model is pretty much the nightmare scenario that internet advocates and pro-competition observers have been warning us about. That’s because AT&T owns DirecTV, and is now giving DirecTV Now privileged access to AT&T’s wireless internet customers. The corruption is so obvious here that it doesn’t need a fancy net neutrality metaphor—AT&T is clearly favoring a company it now owns over competitors.
It’s a slippery slope at best, it seems. But most customers won’t notice, and that’s what AT&T and others, like T-Mobile, are banking on. Small steps that appear to be benevolent allow these companies to inch toward monopolistic control of internet services—the complete opposite of internet as a utility, which is what activists have been advocating for years.