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FCC Watch: Verizon’s Streaming Video Service Doesn’t Count Against Your High Speed Data Cap, Competing Services Do

Verizon FreeBee Data
Verizon's FreeBee Data 360 Program Could Come Under Fire From The FCC
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Verizon Wireless is really trying hard to test the boundaries of Net Neutrality and what the FCC is willing to rule on.  The wireless provider with the nations largest 4G LTE network is allowing its post paid customers to stream its Go90 video service without having it count against their high speed data allotment.  Go90 provides Verizon Wireless subscribers with streams of live sports and other shows, some of which are exclusive to the carrier.

Meanwhile, competing streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and YouTube will count against your high speed data cap that is unless those providers are willing to join Verizon's FreeBee Data 360 program.  The FreeBee Data 360 program allows participating brands to either pay Verizon on a per click basis (PPC) or per GB basis to display their content to Verizon subscribers without having it count against their high speed data cap.

While advertising and the PPC model have long been established as a way to provide revenue to content providers, controlling what type of content can get freely passed on to the end user seems like it could be in violation of the FCC's Net Neutrality rules.  This in particular, when that model is giving away your content for free while charging competing services for delivering the same or similar content.  The FCC explicitly states:

No Paid Prioritization: broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind—in other words, no "fast lanes." This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates.

Verizon also allows FreeBee participating brands to sponsor up to 30 minutes of audio streaming that does not count against a subscribers data cap.

Verizon's FreeBee Data 360 program differs vastly from T-Mobile's Binge-On and Music Freedom programs, services which provide data free streaming video and music to T-Mobile subscribers.  T-Mobile does not charge participating brands for joining either of those programs, yet the company has come under fire from FCC for providing them.  T-Mobile isn't the only company whose programs are being reviewed by the FCC, Comcast and AT&T also have programs that are under review, and therefore it likely won't be long before Verizon has its day with the government regulatory agency known as the FCC.


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