Zero-rated data, the ability to offset the cost of certain data actions or services (sometimes in its entirety) is one of the most controversial topics currently being debated within the Net Neutrality sphere. Much of the controversy seems to surround the inability for a consensus to be formed on whether this is a good or a bad thing for the industry at large. On the one hand, those against the zero-rating of data feel this is a system which by its nature offers larger companies an ability to out-do competition by being able to zero-rate data. In short, it offers big enough companies an unfair advantage over those who cannot afford to zero out data charges for their respective services.
In contrast, those for the initiative see zero-rated data as a way for consumers to stretch their data allowances even more. A move which is of particular importance to those who rely more heavily on the use of their mobile to connect to the internet. An argument which is now being proposed by the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC). According to a white paper released by the nonprofit group, zero-rated data is of particular importance to those who are on a low-income. With the suggestion being that this particular demographic is more likely to be using their mobile device as a sole means to connect to the internet. Thereby, the ability to make use of zero-rated services allows this particular set of customers to afford to access content they might not otherwise be able to, due to data allowance restrictions or being forced to choose how they allocate their allotted data.
The MMTC takes the argument even further by picking up on the fact that by zero-rating specific areas like content streaming offers low-income customers the ability to reserve their stock level of data for “important information relating to employment and health care without surpassing their data caps.” Further adding that any further intervention or regulation by the FCC would be detrimental to low-income customers. As the MMTC's white paper puts it, “an outcome that would prove devastating to consumers and contrary to the innovative ethos that has long permeated the U.S. wireless space.” Those interested can read the MMTC white paper in full by heading through the source link below.