So much of the conversation surrounding the movement for net neutrality has focused on the idea of preventing the ascension of a two-tiered internet system: a “good” internet for players willing to pay up, and a second-rate internet for everyone else. So it’s no surprise that as more and more mobile providers strike deals with content providers that promise to bring users free (or not counting against monthly data allowances) access to their services, federal regulators have been taking note. The FCC has been meeting with carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile over the issue, and while we don’t know the precise outcome of those discussions, the FCC called the conversation “productive.” Even with this controversy still ongoing, other networks have been looking to get in on the action for themselves, and today the latest makes it official, as Verizon announces its own FreeBee Data program.
FreeBee Data is yet another of these zero-rated data schemes, giving content providers the option to pay to make their offerings more appealing to Verizon users by not counting their consumption against data caps.
Verizon’s giving companies two ways to take advantage of FreeBee Data, either on a per-click model, or by directly paying for the amount of data itself.
A sponsored data program like FreeBee is only useful so far as users are aware of it (and able to develop a preference for free-to-consume content), and to that end Verizon’s introducing a (what else) bee-shaped FreeBee Data icon that will be used to mark content covered under the service.
Will plans like FreeBee Data ultimately hold up to government scrutiny? At this point, it may be too soon to tell, but it’s clear that Verizon isn’t interested in waiting for this story to be over before it becomes a part of it.