AT&T is not counting access to HBO Max against customers’ mobile data plans, unlike Netflix or competing services.
Net neutrality was legislation designed to prevent any company from favoring one service over another. It would prevent ISPs who also provided content, from prioritizing performance and access to their own services over those of competitors.
With AT&T’s HBO Max, however, it seems the ISP is showing preferential treatment. AT&T, like most wireless carriers, offers unlimited mobile data, but throttles speeds if an individual goes above a certain usage threshold.
According to The Verge, it seems AT&T is exempting HBO Max from counting against a person’s data usage. At the same time, however, Netflix, Disney+ and other services are not exempt.
This is a classic example that illustrates why consumer groups and companies alike supported net neutrality. Without net neutrality, companies can unfairly stack the deck against competitors or startups, potentially killing rivals before they ever have a chance to be a threat.
Unfortunately for the legislation, one of the first things the FCC did under the Trump administration was gut the legislation and repeal it. AT&T is now providing a perfect example of what happens when net neutrality doesn’t exist.