MTN is trying to turn itself into a quadruple-play TV service with products like VU, said Larry Annetts – chief consumer officer at MTN SA.
Annetts told MyBroadband that by doing do, they will have to deal with net neutrality issues.
The issue of zero-rating as a net neutrality concern reared its head recently when AT&T zero-rated data for its DirecTV Now service.
This means customers’ AT&T data used to stream from DirecTV Now is essentially free.
This follows AT&T acquiring DirecTV in July 2015 and subsequently launching the DirecTV Now subscription streaming video service.
MTN zero-rates its subscription VOD service VU in the same way.
The zero-rated data decision was met with dire warnings from media outlets like The Verge.
“AT&T just declared war on an open Internet,” it said.
Turn the Internet into basic cable, charge for features and content, then charge competitors to compete with their own vertically-integrated video services, stated The Verge.
MTN said a bundled telephony, broadband, and video entertainment operator is the kind of company it is trying to turn into.
However, the debate around zero-rating and net neutrality is not clear-cut, said Annetts.
“Net neutrality and MTN’s zero-rating of VU services are two separate things.”
“MTN’s decision to zero-rate VU should be understood as part of MTN facilitating access to the service for our customers and as part of our marketing strategy.”
Annetts said the zero-rating meant customers will only incur the costs of subscribing to or renting content.
“This is our unique proposition and it is one way of making our customers lives a whole lot brighter.”
Annetts said the decision to zero-rate or bundle a service is not a simple one. “It is entirely dependent on the company’s marketing strategy.”