Open-internet advocates ask FCC for public evaluation of carrier zero-rated data


All too often, smartphone service plans have us feeling like we're falling in one of two camps: either we're paying too much for our connection, or we're paying a price we can live with but wish that bought us more data. So when options emerge that promise to give us more data for free – things like T-Mobile's Binge On free-to-stream video – that sounds like an obvious good thing, right? Well, maybe not, as anytime we choose to treat certain kinds of data differently from others, we risk creating unfair inbalances. Now a group of companies and organizations interested in keeping the internet as a level playing field has published an open letter to the FCC, urging the agency to lead a public discussion into the role of this so-called “zero-rated” data, and what if any rules we might want to regulate it.

While T-Mobile's been good about letting as many video providers as it can take advantage of Binge On zero-rated streaming, there's no FCC rule forcing the carrier to be so tolerant, and that has some open-internet advocates nervous.

Maybe more than that, systems like Binge On artificially make one form of content (in this case, video) more attractive for users to consume than others (say, a high-res slide show), by nature of it not counting against their data caps.

Websites and companies like Mozilla, Etsy, Medium, Vimeo, Reddit, and more have all signed a letter to the FCC asking the agency to make public any investigation into zero-rated practices. They point to the ready availability of zero-rated services across carriers as having created ample test cases for any rule-making effort, and want to make sure that the FCC keeps the public in the loop, as the process of evaluating those test cases starts starts to form the basis of future zero-rating rules.

Do you think all data should be treated equally? Or is there a way we can deliver some of that data differently, while still keeping things fair for everyone?

source: Mozilla, Etsy, Medium, et al. (PDF) via Engadget

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14 Comments

1. TmoRep

Posts: 107; Member since: Apr 20, 2016

Just sounds like whining to me... Just like the whole google and EU thing.

3. michaelny2001

Posts: 327; Member since: Aug 01, 2012

most def whining, so what if T-mo does this? If ATT, Verizon, etc will lose customer because of it, they will do the same. In the meantime they enjoy billions in profits. FYI only in the USA prices are ridiculous, in europe you get 5-8GB data with almost unlimited talk and text, plus international minutes for 6-7 euros, about 8-9 bucks. taxes and fees included. Oh... and ther eis no cap in speed. And don't get me started on the home internet. 300Mbps for 8 bucks and 1GB speed for 15 or 12 bucks. Yes those are correct. We pay the most in the world.

4. eN16HTMAR3

Posts: 253; Member since: Oct 08, 2013

OMG! That's like a 1000 times less than in the states.

5. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Want to cry come to Canada. Its even higher than in USA lol...

7. tedkord

Posts: 17314; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

It's not whining, because the law of the land in the US is net neutrality. All data must be treated the same. The carriers are dumb pipes only. This plan, while it might benefit some, violates net neutrality.

8. TmoRep

Posts: 107; Member since: Apr 20, 2016

I'm not fighting in defense of tmobile. However the reason I see it as whining, is because with this law it only benefits the business; rarely the consumer. If a company strives to be better then the rest whether it is a large scale company such as google or something as low as a Cell phone carrier. They shouldn't be punished just because they have an advantage over another company when that company "could" have the opportunity to offer the same type of business. I see it as, "They have one, I want one. If I can't have it no one will" This is a very Vague reason but, if need be I can elaborate further my Honest opinion, which is all this is, I have no grasp or expertise in the matter.

9. tedkord

Posts: 17314; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

If they're truly concerned about the customer, then simply make data unlimited. Then there is no issue.

11. TmoRep

Posts: 107; Member since: Apr 20, 2016

They did, all carriers I believe. Yet this problem arises.

12. tedkord

Posts: 17314; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

No, they didn't.

13. tedkord

Posts: 17314; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

If they'd made data unlimited, what would be the need for data free streaming?

14. TmoRep

Posts: 107; Member since: Apr 20, 2016

You can purchase the unlimited plan on all carriers. You'd didn't say unlimited data for free.

2. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

This is stupid. What T-Mo is offering is awesome. Video using more data than streaming any other content. I can streaming audio everyday all day for a whole month and I wont even use 50% of my 10GB of data. But streaming high-res video, I could use 50% in just a weeks time. So if T-Mo is willing to allow streaming of 720p video for free, what's the frikkin problem? As much money as the US Gov't waste on military, they could invest in a US wide WiFi network that is free. Make the carriers work together to create this network and make them spend their money and whatever money the Feds give them to complete it. Carriers shoudl work with devs to ensure the streaming apps access this network by default All carriers plan for data need to go the way of the DoDO. Comcast with all the money they have, should setup a US wide Xfinity signal and open it to all smartphone users period. Then the carriers and Gov;t should pay them for it at a set price that is based on the cost of a per person. I'd say a cost of $30 per person is a fair price to pay that covers each user

6. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Do you know what ppl will call this? Comunism lol Still i agree with you.

10. andynaija

Posts: 1255; Member since: Sep 08, 2012

Kinda off topic, but does anyone else think it would be cool if carriers painted their antennas their color schemes?, it'd be pretty cool to identify different carriers towers by color, like if you see a tower with magenta antennas then T-Mobile or red antennas Verizon etc.

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