EE offers ‘personal’ TV viewing across LTE, but does it pass the neutrality test?

via Flickr © University of Salford (CC BY 2.0)

via Flickr © University of Salford (CC BY 2.0)

UK mobile operator EE (the joint venture between Orange and T-Mobile)  has strengthened its home broadband service with EE TV, a service which sees it take on established UK multi-players TalkTalk, BT, Virgin Media and Sky.The idea is to offer the traditional free to air channels and catch-up TV but not yet any exclusive content. The stress here is on providing a viable ‘personal TV service’ that users can view on their LTE phones via the cellular network.

So how does EE get around the data cap problem which tends to make TV viewing unviable across the cell network (mobile users usually wait until they are in range of WiFi before viewing any TV). To zero-rate the paid-for TV viewing is raise the alarm over non-neutral behaviour since such an arrangement disfavours alternative video providers (like Netflix, for instance).

EE might have done just enough to get away with it by making the service free to all EE broadband customers and to EE 4G users for an additional £9.95 a month. So mobile customers who take up EE TV will also get 10GB or 20GB more data per month, depending on their plan.

Users are therefore seemingly buying extra capacity but getting the TV service for free.  But is this really non-neutral?  Surely only if users are also able to buy the bandwidth at the same rates  to view other channels and we can guess that that’s not (yet) part of the package?

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