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Thread: The Dangers of Zero-Rated Data

  1. #1
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    Post The Dangers of Zero-Rated Data

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    The Cellular Telephone Industries Association (CTIA) (a lobby group) has commissioned a new study about zero-rated mobile content. The results? An overwhelming 94% of millennials surveyed were more likely to try a new online service if it were part of a free data offering.

    "It is no surprise that Americans embrace free data services that offer wireless consumers more data, more competitive choices and more flexibility to try new mobile applications and content. Free data services empower consumers with the freedom to choose what works for their mobile life, and that’s an outcome that everyone should support,” says CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker.

    For advocates of net neutrality, the news is less encouraging.

    T-Mobile's Binge On, Music Freedom, et al. are great if you're a T-Mobile customer, not so much if you're not. I think people cut TMO a lot of slack because they're the scrappy underdog. Imagine if it were AT&T or Verizon offering this same zero-rated content; would users be so enthusiastic about it then?

    Well, as it turns out, Verizon is exempting its own licensed content from data caps. Here in Canada Bell tried the very same thing, and was famously taken to task by our very own Ben Klass. But zero-rated content remains—Fido subscribers can enjoy free access to Spotify and Daily VICE, while Vidéotron subscribers get zero-rated music from a variety of services.

    For me it boils down to this: If carriers—and broadband ISPs, for that matter— are allowed to compete on what is tantamount to exclusive content then we're ultimately no longer using the Internet; we're back to the days of disparate online services like AOL and CompuServe. I'd much prefer our data providers to be dumb pipes, competing instead on price and speed.

    What do you think?

    Sources: CTIA, DSL Reports (1), (2), Fido, Vidéotron
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  2. #2
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    I'm fine with zero-rated data as long as content creators don't have to pay the providers. No pay to play. I believe T-Mobile's approach to zero-rated data is not only consumer friendly, but content friendly. There is no better way to reach more customers than taking the overage concerns out of the equation. New startups can compete just fine and existing players have no market advantage. Wireless service cannot be treated the same as fixed-broadband where there are fewer physical limitations to scaling the network.

    Instead of legislating how providers are allowed to deliver service, we should really focus on allowing more providers to enter and compete in the market. This wouldn't even be a discussion if there were 2-3x as many wireless and fixed broadband providers for each customers to choose from. In my area I can only choose one ISP and two wireless carriers. How does NN even matter if I have so few choices?

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    Just an FYI, Fido does not zero rate Spotify or Daily Vice. They provide cover the cost of your subscription to those services, but it still counts against your data allotment. Just look at their fine print on the linked page:
    Data consumption: approx. 1 MB/min. for use of audio streaming and approx. 6 MB /min. for use of video streaming (varies based on length of audio/video, stream quality, device and other factors). Data usage exceeding your plan allotment (overage) is charged in increments rounded up to the next MB or GB (as applicable based on your plan).

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