FCC asks T-Mobile, AT&T and Comcast if their free-data plans break internet rules – their main concern is if these industry behemoths are willingly violating Internet traffic rules.
Federal regulators are looking into new offerings provided by these companies. Take T-Mobile’s Binge On, unveiled last month, in November. This service allows its customers to watch as much video as they want on their mobile devices – Binge On includes Hulu, ESPN, Netflix, HBO and other 20 or so providers.
Binge On is exempt from counting used data. This kind of service could hinder innovation, says federal regulators.
Federal Communications Commission’s chairman, Tom Wheeler, said on Tursday that the agency has sent letters to AT&T, T-Mobile and Comcast asking them for a few informal meetings where they are to discuss the future of these innovative things they are doing, and their impact on the industry.
Tom Wheeler notes that this is not an investigation, nor it is an enforcement.
Letters were sent Wednesday, and the aforementioned companies need to make employees available by January the 15th.
T-Mobile was the first to agree to the informal meeting, and to give details about Binge On to the FCC. The company continued to add that they are strong supporters of net neutrality, and they are firm believers of the principles of equal and open access to the ever-flowing Internet.
T-Mobile doesn’t seem to think that something is wrong with their Binge On service, and they add that they believe it’s in line with all of the net-neutrality rules – old and new.
AT&T got a letter about their Data Perks and Sponsored Data plans, which allows their customers – read, companies; to subsidize the costs for data that their users are benefiting. Comcast’s letter was about their new service called Stream TV.
Stream TV is tested in a handful of markets, and it allows Xfinity Internet customers to stream content provided by Comcast via their cable programming, which doesn’t count against data caps.
Sen Fitzmaurice, spokeswoman for Comcast, has said that their Stream TV isn’t a zero-rated service, as it doesn’t go over the public Internet. It goes through their cable service, which works only in the consumer’s home.
Comcast has also agreed to participate at the meeting, but AT&T has noted that they are reviewing the letter and they will respond as appropriate.
Netflix, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft – some of the Silicon Valley titans; have been vehemently lobbying against the anti-open internet riders. It appears that they have prevailed, as a ruling is expected early next year concerning net neutrality. Yet, only time will tell if just a battle was won, or the whole war is tightly secured.
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