Verizon Wireless introduced its Go90 mobile video service back in September of last year, and later made it available to all users, regardless of whether they subscribers of the Big Red or not. But a few days ago, it was reported by The Verge that the biggest wireless carrier in the United States would not be charging its own subscribers for the data they use up over its mobile video service. Some circles are now accusing Verizon of violating net neutrality rules, by virtue of excluding its customers from any data charge, essentially favoring them over other types of mobile users. An update rolled out to the Go90 mobile app for the Android mobile operating system also noted that mobile video service can now be used over LTE without affecting the data allowances of subscribers of Verizon Wireless.
It has been several years already since Verizon Wireless ceased offering unlimited data plan options for new subscribers. Instead, the Big Red now offers tiered plans that range from $30 a month for 1 gigabyte of data to $100 a month for 18 gigabytes of data (plus $20 a month for every line of service, and taxes). It is safe to say that getting data from Verizon can prove to be costly, especially for those who like to consume video content via their mobile devices.
The launch of Go90 promised to provide a service that would erase customers’ worries about their data getting all used up. But such zero rated services often have a huge competitive advantage over those who do charge for data, especially data consumed because of watching video content. As a result, net neutrality advocates are crying foul over the alleged unfairness.
As for Verizon Wireless, it argues that the Go90 mobile video service is open to other video content providers by way of its sponsored data program FreeBee Data 360, which basically allows content providers to sponsor the data costs incurred by customers. The Big Red maintains that its Go90 service does not favor any specific type of customer.
But an argument can be said that these same content providers doing the sponsoring are actually spending money just to try to compete with Verizon’s service. These is where pro net neutrality parties are griping about -- Verizon is saying it is playing fair but is actually pulling some strings, these advocates are claiming.
So what does the Federal Communications Commission think about all this? The agency is yet to make up its mind. In the meantime, Verizon Wireless and other carriers continue to test the waters on which actions are permissible and which ones are not.
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