Streaming companies have to pay mobile carriers -- such as AT&T -- if they don’t want traffic from their services to affect users’ data caps. AT&T owns HBO, though, so the conglomerate would be paying itself if it didn’t want its new HBO Max service to do so. The company has confirmed to The Verge that data from HBO Max will be exempted from customers’ traditional data caps or the soft data caps that come with “unlimited” plans.
The Verge spoke to an AT&T executive who says that the aforementioned fee is an expense for HBO Max, but is revenue for AT&T Mobility, so the two cancel each other out. If another streaming service, such as Netflix, were to pay the fee, it would only count as a cost. No other streaming companies pay the fee, and therefore, all traffic from Netflix, Hulu and others counts against data caps. This could give AT&T and HBO Max an unfair advantage in the streaming wars.