Verizon has announced that it is now exempting its NFL Mobile app from the company’s wireless usage caps, an increasingly common practice known as “zero rating.” According to the company’s NFL Mobile website, users can now use the app — which lets Verizon wireless LTE users watch live local and primetime games, without eating into their monthly shared data usage allotment. Verizon allows select companies to zero rate their own content, apps or individual videos for a fee as part of the carrier’s Free Bee service.
Verizon’s move is only the latest of its type, coming on the heels of AT&T announcing it would be zero rating its own DirecTV streaming content last week.
Zero rating is controversial among net neutrality advocates who argue the very act of giving some content cap-exempt status automatically puts other competitors at a distinct disadvantage. Verizon already zero rates its own Go90 streaming video service in the hopes of giving it a leg up in the market (though even that doesn’t seem to be helping the app, which several partners last week declared a “dud”).
The FCC’s net neutrality rules don’t specifically ban zero rating, unlike net neutrality rules in India, The Netherlands, Japan, Finland, Norway, and several other countries. Instead, the FCC said it would be determining whether zero rating is anti-competitive on a “case by case basis,” but has yet to issue any warnings. The FCC has said it’s conducting an “informal information inquiry” regarding zero rating, but hasn’t offered a substantive update on the inquiry since late last year.
With the FCC seemingly uninterested with the possible anti-competitive implications of usage caps and zero rating, carriers have been quick to take full advantage. You can find more detail on Verizon’s NFL Mobile app over at the Verizon website.