Net Neutrality has been a pretty popular topic in the past few years. The FCC has been working to enforce the rules of Net Neutrality which it passed in 2014. Many have thought that the zero-rating of certain services that carriers are doing these days, are against Net Neutrality, and the FCC agreed – when it comes to Verizon and AT&T. On December 1st, the commission sent a letter over to the two largest carriers in the US, about how they feel that zero-rating their own video services was against Net Neutrality.
For those that are unaware, Verizon zero-rates data on Go90 and NFL Mobile, both of which are their services. AT&T does the same for DIRECTV, U-verse and DIRECTV NOW streaming, again these are all AT&T's services. The two carriers responded to the skepticism from the FCC today. Joan Marsh, AT&T's senior VP of federal regulatory, stated that "the Bureau has still articulated no plausible basis for challenging Data Free TV as 'anticompetitive'".
Meanwhile, Verizon's senior VP Kathleen Grillo compared zero-rating data for Go90 and NFL Mobile to toll-free calling. Noting that "much like toll-free calling, where the provider of the content, instead of the consumer, pays the cost." She continued by stating that the FCC has no evidence to show that Go90's zero-rated data has "injured or could harm consumers or competition."
Many have been wondering why the FCC has been going after these two carriers, but praising what T-Mobile has been doing with Binge On. The differences here are pretty drastic. When it comes to AT&T and Verizon, not just any video provider can jump into their program for zero-rated data. But with T-Mobile, all video is optimized at a lower resolution, and any provider can join Binge On for zero-rated data. Which means that both providers and consumers benefit. However, what AT&T and Verizon are saying are absolutely true. By zero-rating their data on these services, customers can do more than ever with their smartphone, which is a big deal, especially in the world of data caps. It'll be interesting to see what the FCC says in response. But chances are they won't be able to do much, since their weeks are numbered before the Trump administration takes over on January 20th.