We haven’t really weighed in on the net neutrality debate that has been raging, and thanks to President Trump is likely to again, in the USA. Net neutrality is a complex issue but in the end, it’s about treating all bits as equal. An ISP should not treat Netflix any differently than YouTube when it comes to speed, most people agree on this. One of the more contentious parts of the net neutrality debate is the practice of zero-rating.
Zero-rating is where the traffic for a specific service/s does not count towards your monthly data cap. Imagine being able to stream all the music you wanted without it affecting your monthly cap. That’s exactly what Telstra is offering with their latest Apple Music offer. Telstra customers who sign up for Apple music through Telstra will not have the Apple music streaming data come off their monthly allowance.
Telstra are by no means the only telco in Australia to be offering zero rated data, but compared with other offerings, the single provider nature of Telstra’s plan would restrict customer choice on their network to just a single service.
This is in stark contrast to the likes of Optus, which are currently offering Google Play Music, iHeartRADIO, Pandora or Spotify for audio and Netflix, Stan and ABC for video, all with no data implications for the customer’s plan.
The issue with zero-rating data is it may “pick winners”. Are you going to sign up for the latest music streaming start-up if you have another choice at the same price and the data is free? That’s consumer choice or capitalism I hear you say? The proponents of net neutrality would say that it’s monopolistic, you see the incumbents can afford to make the deals to have your data free, it reduces competition and stifles innovation.
The real issue with zero-rating is consumers love it, what you want to give me free data? Sign me up! I live with the daily anguish of balancing my 322MB of daily data I’d love more data or some data just not to count, but some things come up too high a price.
Sure, in the short-term zero-rating feels like a great deal for consumers, but in the long run, consumers just may be doing themselves a disservice. Once all the competition in any space is gone do you really think those left standing will bother paying for your data? Do you think without competition they will charge the lowest price possible?
It’s hard to convince people that zero-rating is somehow bad, we even had extensive debates about it amongst ourselves, and the team were divided about if this even is a net neutrality issue. Unfortunately, I think we’re going to see more deals like this spring up, and it’s not all good news.
Do you think zero-rating data is an issue? Do you think it violates net neutrality? Let us know below.