AT&T says net neutrality laws mean it has to charge for video streaming

AT&T said it’s now prohibited from offering sponsored data programs that allowed customers to stream video without using data due to California’s newly enacted net neutrality laws.

The company said the feature has allowed AT&T video providers – including HBO Max – to offer “Data Free TV” to AT&T wireless customers. AT&T Mobility said it has for years “openly invited any entity to become a wireless data sponsor on the same terms and conditions.”

However, AT&T said the new laws not only end its ability to offer California customers free data services but also impacts its customers in states beyond California.

“A state-by-state approach to ‘net neutrality’ is unworkable. A patchwork of state regulations, many of them overly restrictive, creates roadblocks to creative and pro-consumer solutions,” the company wrote in a blog post. “We deliver the content and services our customers want because it’s what they demand, not because it’s mandated by regulation.”

RELATED: Netflix mum as others in media react to California’s net neutrality laws

AT&T is pushing for Congress to adopt federal legislation making internet access affordable for all while providing permanent net neutrality rules for everyone.

California’s rules are meant to prevent internet service providers from blocking or slowing content or applications, or from charging fees to internet companies for faster access to customers. They went into effect this year after a federal judge denied a request from AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and other ISPs to delay the new rules.

The rules were first signed into law in 2018 by then-Governor Jerry Brown but the U.S. Justice Department responded by filing a lawsuit against California, alleging that interstate communications should be regulated by the federal government and not on the state level.

At the time, The Writers Guild of America West applauded California for stepping in after the FCC voted to repeal federal net neutrality regulations.

“Once enacted, this landmark net neutrality legislation will serve as a model for states nationwide to follow. The Internet today is where we connect, where we organize and speak freely, and where we can choose what content we consume. With increasing attacks on our First Amendment rights and widespread corporate concentration, preserving an open Internet free from ISP interference is more important now than ever,” the group said in a statement.