The FCC's net neutrality rules, passed last year, explicitly ban internet providers from a number of discriminatory measures like throttling and blocking, but there's evidently a huge loophole that every major wireless carrier in the US has rushed to exploit. T-Mobile's Binge On program, which throttles video content, is troublesome — but AT&T and Verizon's programs are much worse, especially the one Verizon just announced today in the fine print of an update for its Go90 video app.
Verizon's Go90 video platform, the company's effort to compete with video providers by offering its own bundle, now won't count against customers' data caps. That's a huge deal, since video eats up a lot of data on mobile devices, and especially since Verizon's data plans are expensive. Here's what Verizon is asking customers to cough up for data as of today:
Verizon and other carriers have argued that zero-rating programs, like the one snuck in today, are beneficial to consumers and do not violate the FCC's net neutrality rules — but their arguments are based on a market of artificial scarcity they have created, and now intend to exploit. The endgame of zero-rating programs is a two-way tollbooth that Verizon controls: first Verizon receives payment from customers for access to the network, then it receives payment from content providers who want unlimited access to customers, or from whatever other revenue sources it can draw from hosting an exclusive video bundle that won't count against data caps. The upshot of creating punitive data caps, like the ones you can see in the photo above, is that you can then reap juicy tolls from people who provide services that require a lot of data. This scheme is exactly what the principles of net neutrality are designed to prevent, but Verizon and its peers are doing it anyway.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler may be busy trying to score a new victory against cable companies by disrupting the cable box, but it's starting to look like the fight he won last year is very far from over.