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.