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Sri Lanka’s internet is a sprawling violation of Net Neutrality

Sri Lanka's telecom operators have been violating Net Neutrality, the principle that traffic on the internet should not be discriminated. Plans frequently offer access to social media services like Facebook and WhatsApp for free, while metering other internet traffic. The end result has been that customers have been left with low data allowances and are locked into tariff plans where streaming services and social media networks blessed by network operators get unrestricted access to consumers, while the rest of the internet is subject to low limits. Social media-only packs are not new, but a review of some of Sri Lanka's telecom plans shows that discriminatory data packs have left a deep imprint on how the country accesses the internet. For example, there's Mobitel's Non-Stop plan, which provides the WhatsApp, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Viber for up to 30GB, but limits other high speed usage at 2GB. Then there is Dialog fixed broadband's Netflix-only plan, whose regulatory disclosure states clearly that it's an add-on for 999 Sri Lankan Rupees a month that lets users browse Netflix for free. (In a statement, Netflix said, "We’ve long been supporters of strong net neutrality, including ensuring non-discriminatory zero-rating plans.") And then there is Sri Lanka Telecom, which has a plan which provides unlimited data for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and its own service, SLT Film Hall. A lot of the Net Neutrality violating plans tend to sit on top of existing plans as add-ons, letting telcos juice more money out of individual subscribers. During…

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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