Net Neutrality

Analysts Feel that FCC’s Net Neutrality Ruling Will not Affect “Sponsored Data” Plans

March 16, 2015 - Written By Alexander Maxham

Lately all we’ve been hearing about is Net Neutrality. It’s been a pretty popular topic lately. Since we’ve seen ISPs as well as mobile carriers slowing down some traffic and not all. Which led to the FCC’s recent ruling. According to Fierce Wireless today, it looks like the FCC’s recent net neutrality rules are not going to kill the wireless carriers plans to launch sponsored data plans. Which AT&T has already announced, over a year ago at CES 2014. This is according to analysts at New Street Research.

The research note that the New Street Research analysts had posted, notes that the FCC left open the door for sponsored data plans. The Commission, “did not take the view that sponsored data should be treated with a bright line ban, as being similar to paid prioritization,”wrote Jonathan Chaplin, Spencer Kurn, Zach Monsma and Vivek Stalam. In layman’s terms, Sponsored data gives consumers free access to certain services that are being subsidized by a company. For instance, if Facebook wanted to team up with AT&T for Sponsored data, the consumers could go to Facebook.com for free and it wouldn’t use their cap.

In Fierce Wireless’ report today, they stated that the commission actually decided to take an open-minded approach to sponsored data plans. “We are mindful of the concerns raised in the record that sponsored data plans have the potential to distort competition by allowing service providers to pick and choose among content and application providers to feature on different service plans. At the same time, new service offerings, depending on how they are structured, could benefit consumers and competition,” the FCC wrote. “Accordingly, we will look at and assess such practices under the no-unreasonable interference/disadvantage standard, based on the facts of each individual case, and take action as necessary.” 

The New Street Research analysts do not believe that the FCC would seek to ban sponsored data plans. There are a variety of reasons backing them up on that as well. We’ve seen plenty of industry advocates being worried about the FCC’s net neutrality plans. Thinking that they could hault innovation, and such. But it appears that the FCC left it open a bit for innovation in the wireless industry. Additionally, the firm believes that the FCC wouldn’t step in the way of Comcast buying a wireless carrier if they wanted. While the New Street Research firm did state that Comcast doesn’t need to buy a mobile carrier to get into mobile, they do think a deal would get approved. Maybe they know something we don’t?