U.S. FCC says AT&T and Verizon ‘harm consumers’ with free data schemes

“In two letters sent to AT&T and Verizon yesterday, the FCC writes that sponsored data plans from the telecom giants are a threat to net neutrality,” Colin Lecher reports for rThe Verge.

“Both companies have recently instituted similar plans. Under the programs, customers can use select services without having them contribute to a data cap — a practice known as zero rating. In AT&T’s case, the FCC writes that, despite protests from the company, its sponsored data program ‘strongly favors AT&T’s own video offerings’ while damaging the opportunity for other video services to compete,” Lecher reports. “‘We have therefore reached the preliminary conclusion that these practices inhibit competition, harm consumers, and interfere with the ‘virtuous cycle’ needed to assure the continuing benefits of the Open Internet,’ FCC wireless bureau chief Jon Wilkins writes in the letter.”

“The Verizon letter similarly questions the company’s ‘FreeBee Data 360’ program, which, the FCC writes, has largely benefited Go90 — an affiliated mobile video service from Verizon,” Lecher reports. “Last year, when the agency voted to reclassify the internet, it said allowing zero rating would not necessarily harm competition. The agency left the door open, however, to intervene in cases where it does. The letters suggest the FCC is still willing to fight those battles, although with a new administration on the horizon, the agency’s time to fight with its current staff is waning.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The FCC’s so-called “Net Neutrality” is as dead as dead gets. Let us now choose good, pro-innovation policy instead of trying to placate the netroots.

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      1. More likely because T-Mobile has a wide selection of popular video and audio content providers which do not contribute to a data cap. Ma Bell on the other hand is playing favorites with their own services. Do your research.

  1. TM can offer free data for video and music, but AT&T and Verizon can’t…

    Well that’s how it sounds. What’s happening – AT&T is favoring it’s own services over those of others. Umm like Amazon does with Prime and Alexa for Music and Kindle for ebooks.

    Considering that AT&T owns the pipe and the data – they transmit this over their own pipes, technically doesn’t that have a different value than data from other companies?

    From the customer’s point of view, we pay for access to AT&T and DirecTV, why should we be forced to pay more, between the two? I am giving total payment over to AT&T for these services, I think I deserve some kind of “bulk” discount, which this equates to.

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