Tesla is breaking EU anti-trust laws through providing free mobile data for its in-car Spotify subscriptions, according to Strand Consult.
The issue, known as ‘zero rating’ is when a mobile operator or MVNO provides free mobile data to some websites or services, while charging a different rate for access to other services. Strand argues that electric car manufacturer Tesla, by providing SIM solutions and free Spotify data, is essentially functioning as an MVNO.
The consultancy firm Strand Consult, which lobbies against net neutrality laws, has complained to European telecom regulators about Tesla’s alleged violations. The company states this is to highlight discrepancies in whom regulators chose to prosecute, citing cases in the Sweden, the Netherlands an Hungary where zero rated music and video services have been banned, whereas in Slovenia and Belgium it is accepted.
Strand stated they have complained to Swedish and Dutch regulators relating to the issue.
Describing the growing complexity of the issue, a statement by the company reads, ‘Going forward this issue will only become more complex with the Internet of Things and new providers of services, SIM cards and traffic. It seems that the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communication has attempted to isolate and favor new types of mobile providers from rules, but given their labyrinth of guidelines and the conflicting opinion across countries, it is likely that regulators will come under legal challenge for limiting the free flow of services across the European Union.’
Arguing in favour of allowing zero rated services and against the net neutrality laws associated with it, the consultancy firm argues that in the US, ‘The Federal Communication Commission notes that it receives no complaints about free data from real consumers, only select activists.’
However, to suggest it is ‘select activists’ downplays resistance to the weakening of net neutrality laws. In the US, nearly four million people wrote to the FCC to demand the protection of net neutrality. These four million letters from ‘select activists’ nearly all related to differing pricing rates for different services.
Mobile approached Tesla and Ofcom and will update with any response.