HBO Max will now count towards your data limit — AT&T blames net neutrality

AT&T storefront
AT&T storefront (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • AT&T has announced that HBO Max will count towards its customer's data limit.
  • The change is being made due to California's newly enacted net neutrality law.
  • AT&T blames net neutrality while claiming to be committed to an open internet.

Being able to stream movies and shows without using up your data was always a perk of being an AT&T customer, especially while more people are streaming from home these days. Unfortunately, that will soon come to an end, according to AT&T. The company announced in a blog post on Wednesday that it could no longer offer such serves due to California's newly enacted net neutrality law, meaning subscribers will no longer be able to stream HBO Max on phones like the new Samsung Galaxy S21 without it counting towards their data limit.

We regret the inconvenience to customers caused by California's new "net neutrality" law. Given that the Internet does not recognize state borders, the new law not only ends our ability to offer California customers such free data services but also similarly impacts our customers in states beyond California.

The blog post takes a hard stance against the law that was passed just last month. In lieu of a federally mandated net neutrality law, which may take some time to become a reality, California decided to take matters into its own hands and implement its own. The law prohibits zero-rating, which is the act of companies subsidizing the cost or use of certain services or exempting only certain data usage from a customer's allowance.

AT&T expresses its strong objection to the state-by-state approach to net neutrality, saying that it confuses the overall effort to enforce net neutrality laws. It also claims that it's committed to an affordable and open internet while having lobbied against net neutrality for years. And given that HBO Max is preparing to launch its cheaper ad-supported tier in a few months, this could lead to a loss of revenue for AT&T now that it's losing leverage to continue offering bundled services, which it currently does as a selling point.

Meanwhile, it's currently unclear how some of the best 5G networks besides AT&T are being affected by this move. Verizon and T-Mobile both cover the cost of Disney+ and Netflix, respectively. The main difference is that T-Mobile is now the only carrier to offer a truly unlimited 5G data plan with its new Magenta Max, which may be the best 5G plan available and a great alternative for heavy data users.

Derrek Lee
News Editor

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.

  • At&t not surprised they used a poor excuse to blame net neutrality.
  • Eat a dick, AT&T. Meet neutrality, my ass.
  • They can eat a whole bag of dicks.
  • just AT&T being the pile of garbage they are. So glad I left them many years ago
  • A non issue for me
  • Um, who doesn't have unlimited data in 2021?
  • Plenty of people don't
  • And unlimited isn't unlimited....just ask the asterisk on your bill every month.
  • I DON'T! Is that a problem? However, I do not glue my face to my 4XL and use it primarily as a phone and when I do surf the net, it is usually connected to the internet via my router or when camping (if I can get service) or in a parking lot. I DO NOT watch movies or play kiddie games.
  • I watch a lot of videos and play non kiddie games..
  • AT&T, will come up with any excuse possible to cover the fact they just want to make more money. Since I refuse to do business with them, I have not pig in this fight.
  • Not really a huge issue for me and should not be for most customers. Nowadays my phone is hooked up to wifi most places I go.
    If you are on mobile data and relying on it for watching movies and tv all the time then you are not really using the service the way it was designed to be used. Data is data, if you are using it then it counts.
  • As much as you guys want to denigrate AT&T, they are right. They own Time Warner which owns HBO. If AT&T subsidizes their own property with 'free' data, they disadvantage other streaming services. That's the crux of 'net neutrality', like it or not. With some of the other examples, Verizon and T-Mobile with Disney+ and Netflix, they don't own those properties, so it is less clear. I believe they cover the cost, but do they forgive the data on their networks?
  • They are right only in that they can’t zero rate the data. It never should have been allowed in the first place. Net Neutrality means neutral for ALL. Every service treated equally including the ones owned by the carrier. Being able to zero rate means a disadvantage to those services that can’t. In this case it was designed to get you to watch HBO Max over competing services. In short F AT&T.