Verizon's FreeBee Data is a sponsored data program that looks a lot like paid prioritization

Verizon's FreeBee Data is a sponsored data program that looks a lot like paid prioritization
If there's one thing we can rely on it's that the major telecom operators in the US are not big fans of net neutrality. In fact, some carriers are often vocal in their stance against the principles of a free unrestrainable Internet and often do their best to fight the movement by squeezing through loopholes and technical details. 

It's in this context that Verizon, the largest carrier in the US by subscriber count, has just announced a new sponsored data program called FreeBee Data.

Verizon's FreeBee sponsored data program will come in two tiers. The first one, called FreeBee Data, will let content providers sponsor specific actions such as streaming a song, downloading an app, or watching a video. Whenever you follow a FreeBee link, which will be marked through a bee icon, the content on the other side of the link will not count towards your data cap. Verizon will get its money from the content provider using a pay-per-click model.

The second tier is called FreeBee Data 360 and is a pay-per-GB approach. Using the program, content providers will be able to offer free access to all or just a portion of their online content. In exchange, Verizon will tax the content provider on a per gigabyte basis, effectively allowing the content provider to pay for the bandwidth consumed by its users. In other words, what T-Mobile's Music Freedom and Binge On programs do for music and video streaming, respectively, Verizon's FreeBee Data 360 can do for all types of content.

At a first look, this may seem like a good idea for the average Verizon subscriber as it does translate into free bandwidth. The problem, however, is that sponsored data programs can create an uneven playing field among content providers. Some of the big players may have the budget to sponsor their content, but smaller ones might not dispose of such resources. 

At the end of the day, content providers that do not offer free (in terms of carrier-imposed data caps) access to their shows/music/etc will find themselves at a disadvantage compared to those who can afford to pay Verizon for the bandwidth that their customers eat up.

The three core principles of net neutrality are the prohibition of blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization, and it sure does seem like Verizon's FreeBee Data program violates the latter. As such, it will be particularly interesting to learn what the FCC has to say about Verizon's new sponsored data business model. Back in, the FCC has allowed T-Mobile's Binge On to live on, but only under close scrutiny. 

Verizon says that it will debut the per-gigabyte FreeBee Data 360 program starting today while the per-click FreeBee Data 360 tier will open up for testing on January 25th. The Big Red carrier will initially test out its new sponsored program on about 1,000 customers across the US with a wide commercial launch is expected to follow later in the year.

source: Verizon

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20 Comments

1. tacarat

Posts: 854; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

There's no such thing as a free lunch.

2. jas0n unregistered

this doesnt sound like data prioritization. it seems more like getting a discount for buying a store brand. t-mobile did this by offering no data charges for their own music streaming service. they arent slowing competitors data...they are just giving you an incentive to use their own product.

5. tedkord

Posts: 17198; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

It's not their product, they are in essence charging on both ends. And since most people have data caps, it is prioritization, because it avoids the caps. And since their whole rationale (I know, it is a lie, but it's what the said) for data caps is congestion, they have to be guaranteeing bandwidth for thisthis content of its being paid for, so it's prioritization.

11. Baracus

Posts: 223; Member since: Sep 15, 2012

In UK I get 40mbps truly unlimited broadband for £20($30) per month, and 35mbps unlimited 4g for £20 per month. Now I know in America you can get nothing close to that unless you spend a small fortune, and that's why America is still in the stone age with Internet services.

20. jas0n unregistered

well so now you know it's a lie. and how are they charging on both ends if they are giving you the content paid for by advertisers free of data? that seems like one end to me.

3. Baracus

Posts: 223; Member since: Sep 15, 2012

Richest country in the world yet America has a stone age Internet service.

8. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Carriers dont provide Internet Service. Phone carriers are not ISP. They provide a data service which just happens to be the Internet. I have an ISP, it's called Comcast. Its very fast. I have gotten speeds of close to T1 where I live with no issue. Thats more than fast enough for me. I can download at speeds close to 5MB per second depending on where the download is coming frm. Example, I downloaded the full Windows 10 x86/64 bit DVD in under 20 mins. You think that slow? lol

14. joevsyou

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

ewww you support comcast? disgusting

16. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

I've had Comcast since 2012. Never looked back. :)

17. sgtdisturbed47

Posts: 965; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

You do realize that a T1 line is only 1.5 megabits per second, right? T1 isn't about speed...

10. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

We aren't the richest country in the world. There are more important things in the world than worrying about how fast your internet connection is. The USA is the 7th richest country in the world as of 2011http://www.businessinsider.com/the-23-richest-countries-in-the-world-2015-7

4. eN16HTMAR3

Posts: 253; Member since: Oct 08, 2013

So I going to have even more ad's pop u on my phone all the time. Great! Their going to sell this as unlimited until your phone just runs ad's at any given time the carrier see's fit. Can you imagine getting ready for bed and a ad pops up for Ambien out of no where and with no interaction. That's where I see this going. Sorry to sound paranoid. lol.

6. jsjammu

Posts: 169; Member since: Nov 13, 2014

Just offer unlimited plan Verizon, stop playing games.

7. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Good ole' VZW, skating the ice of Net Neutrality. Glad I moved to T-Mobile.

9. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

No carrier should have ever drop unlimited data. All they had to do was charge a reasonable price. The problem is, they needed a plan for the greedy data users who just use data on there device likes its Comcast Cable connection. The FCC should never have allowed carriers to drop unlimited data. But that is what happens when you have a bought government.

13. nancyfuqindrew

Posts: 32; Member since: Jan 07, 2010

I don't think it makes people greedy because they use data.

15. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Yea it does. The carriers signal is not designed to download gigs of data at one time. Carriers don't offer cable-internet-like speeds for uploads and downloads. Now in a pinch, because I was in a remote location, I did have to use the carriers signal to download a few 500MB+ files. But it took forever and never again. The carriers data is designed to keep you in-touch on things that are low data usage applications like email, updates to maybe social media and sure music and maybe a few movies. But some peopel can use 10GB of data in a single day downloading tones of stuff, and that is not what the carrier signal is designed for. Even though maybe less than 5% of users do this, they made it bad for the rest of us. They slow us down because of them. Its one of the reasons they got rid of unlimited data. It one of the reason they made these teir plans. To make you pay for it because if you go over they can get more free money from you. People always abuse FREE. If no one had abused the carriers provisions, I am not saying they wouldn't have eventually did this just for more money. But building up infrastructure to handle the data greedy people who I guess may not have alternative options for Internet and have to use the carriers signal, we all have to suffer for them. FACT - I know people who personally use to root their phones to try to bypass the carriers way of tracking their data usage. These guy would use their phone to host FTP's and websites for pirating software, movies and more. Its because of such abuse we all have to pay for something that should be included. I never said everyone is greedily using data; there are many who do. All the major carriers in the USA especially ATT and VZW have stated such.

12. joevsyou

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

Terrible, Their is 2 data hods, video and streaming music, viewing webpages uses hardly anything and that is where they are trying to spam the customers with video ads

18. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

Verizon's internal company motto is "how can we #$@! people over and make more money while doing so?". First they screw their customers by offering horribly overpriced data plans. Then, to "offset" these plans, they offer this kind of BS to make money through their customers from advertisers.

19. trublackrose

Posts: 45; Member since: Apr 14, 2015

Man. I hate it when a corporation who provides a service for revenue is always focused on making revenue. I mean.. Its so wrong. Why don't all companies just focus on providing a service, out of the goodness of their heart and make everything free. Food is a necessity of life, why can't McDonalds, Krogers, Walmart and all the other food places out there give it to me free. Why are they all greedy bastards that only worry about Revenue and making money. Cell Phones are a necessity of life now, they should also be free. No, Verizon, T-Mo, Sprint and ATT is always focused on Making Money, its like... Thats the whole reason they provide a service to you. Everything should be for free, and we should all work for free. I'm glad those Oil Cartels finally got it right and is working on reducing the cost of Oil down to 10-30$ a barrel. Hopefully they just make Oil free soon so that way I don't have to pay for gas. Only when everything is Free, also, Why is the government so greedy and need my money in the form of Taxes? Sheesh, everyone is so greedy.

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