Verizon customers who subscribe to the company’s FiOS TV service at home and have a Verizon mobile data plan will be able to stream live TV content on their mobile devices without it counting against their monthly data allotment.
The data exemption applies to live streamed channels, recorded content saved to a user’s DVR, and on demand titles. The exemption will apply to Verizon’s capped data plans, which the company refers to as S, M, or L. The plans provide subscribers with 2, 4 or 8GB of data, respectively.
Verizon recently re-introduced an unlimited data plan as competition among mobile carriers has heated up and created a demand for plans without data limits. Verizon likely hopes its new offering of FiOS TV streaming will entice users on the cheaper, limited data plans to remain with the carrier despite enticing unlimited data plan offers from competitors.
The introduction of a data exemption doesn’t just signal an attempt to remain competitive from the largest carrier in the U.S., it also stands as one of the clearest signs yet that net neutrality is effectively dead.
Verizon took heat from the Federal Communications Commission earlier this year when it was under the leadership of Chairman Tom Wheeler for similar practices. At the time, Verizon had exempted its Go90 mobile video service from counting against data caps.
That practice, known as zero rating, is viewed as a violation of net neutrality principles because it provides an unfair advantage to a platform.
When Verizon exempts its own streaming platforms from counting against a data limit that it imposes, it provides a distinct benefit to using its own services. Competing services—be it from another carrier like AT&T or from an edge provider like Sling or Netflix—don’t benefit in the same way despite using the same network.
By introducing the exemption for FiOS TV, it is apparent that Verizon is not worried about being reprimanded again for its zero rating practices. New FCC chairman Ajit Pai opted to end inquiries into zero rating practices to determine if they were harmful to consumers and has touted his plan to roll back regulations applied by the previous administration.
If Verizon’s latest exemption goes unchallenged, it will signal to other mobile carriers that the will no longer have to abide by the rules set in place by the previous FCC leadership.