Recently, a number of companies have been looking to find ways to offer their customers more value for their money when it comes to data. In particular, ways to make their data go further. Instead of simply upping the consumer’s data limit or reducing the cost of already in use data limits, certain companies have been looking at ways in which data can be omitted from the consumer’s consumption. Essentially, making some data usage free at the consumer level.
Two of the most notable examples of this ‘zero rating’ tactic have come from AT&T and T-Mobile. In the case of AT&T, this is ‘sponsored data‘ where consumers do not pay for certain data used and instead it is paid for by a ‘sponsor’. In the case of T-Mobile, their interpretation of zero rating has come in the form of Binge On, a service where consumers can avoid data charges when streaming video from some video providers. While, this is good for the consumers who use these services, the issue is with the use of the words certain and some. As the recently introduced Net Neutrality rules dictate that services, fees or otherwise cannot be applied to some companies and not others. Especially, if they are paid for services or fees as this could be a form of ‘paid prioritization’. The FCC’s Tom Wheeler had previously suggested that on the face of it there did not seem to be a major Net Neutrality issues with the likes of T-Mobile’s Binge On Service. Although, now it sees that the FCC has decided to take a closer look at how the services from AT&T and T-Mobile stack up.
According to a report from Reuters and comments made by Wheeler to reporters today, the FCC sent out letters yesterday to AT&T, T-Mobile and Comcast “to come in and have a discussion with us about some of the innovative things that they are doing“. In particular, with a focus on the companies respective data policies. Of course, the calling in of the likes of AT&T and T-Mobile does not suggest that the FCC believe they have done anything wrong or that any of the companies are in breach of any Net Neutrality rules. What it does suggest though, is that the FCC are now ready to start taking a much closer look at these data omitting services.