Portuguese Data Plans Offer Net Neutrality Warning: U.S. Congressional Rep.

US Congressional Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California) is pointing to data packages on mobile plans in Portugal as a potential outcome for U.S. consumers if net neutrality laws are repealed.

In Portugal, with no net neutrality, internet providers are starting to split the net into packages. pic.twitter.com/TlLYGezmv6

— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) October 27, 2017

Portuguese internet service provider MEO began offering data packages for specific bundled packages of zero-rated apps on mobile data plans in April. The plans are grouped by application type such as “messaging” and “music” for €4,99 a month each, as reported by Boing Boing. The report noted a striking similarity to images made by net neutrality advocates in 2014 to demonstrate how ISPs would be allowed to give preferential treatment to incumbent websites and services without it.

The European Union’s net neutrality laws do not explicitly deal with zero-rating, but the practice is used by other telecoms on the continent, including Vodaphone in Spain. The specifics of EU net neutrality rules are still playing out at the national level, with Germany’s telecommunications regulator recently allowing a modified version of Deutsche Telekom’s zero-rated “StreamOn” service.

Khanna, who represents the Silicon Valley area, said the practice “totally ices out startups trying to get in front of people which stifles innovation,” and called for net neutrality to be saved.

Existing U.S. net neutrality rules are under threat both in the courts and at the Federal Communications Commission, which passed a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in May pursuant to repealing the classification of broadband as a utility.