ISPs Are Violating Net Neutrality By “Zero Rating” Certain Apps

[Commentary]  The idea of network neutrality may be intuitively simple, but the regulations that codify it are complex. One point of comparison is the position countries take on “zero rating,” a phrase used to describe telecom service plans that offer discounted or free access to a select group of apps or services. In fact, this image from the website of a Portuguese telecom provider MEO, that uses zero rating, recently went viral because it represents the dystopia of what a fragmented internet might look like. 

Chairman Pai dismissed the concerns saying that MEO’s plan is fine for consumers. He is wrong.

On closer scrutiny, it appears MEO’s service includes add-on bundles to regular data plans that give subscribers additional data that can used to access a pre-selected group of apps. What this picture doesn’t reveal is that MEO also throws in free access to the apps that they themselves own!

If the experience globally teaches us anything it’s that we needed a stronger net neutrality framework in the U.S. We should be building on former FCC Chariman Tom Wheeler’s 2015 Order to strengthen net neutrality by, at the very least, having a default presumption against zero rating so American consumers don’t have to pay extra to use the applications of their choice.


ISPs Are Violating Net Neutrality By “Zero Rating” Certain Apps