Zero-rating is “pro-competition” and “pro-innovation”

Zero-rating is “pro-competition” and “pro-innovation” according to FCC Chair Tom Wheeler.

In an article under a banner of “Ministry of Innovation / Business of Technology”, Ars Technica reports that Tom Wheeler praised T-Mobile’s program that exempts certain online video services from data caps, under its new Binge On service.

If anyone were to file a complaint against T-Mobile’s video exemption, Wheeler doesn’t seem likely to stop the practice.

“Its clear in the Open Internet Order that we said we are pro-competition and pro-innovation,” Wheeler said today. “Clearly this meets both of those criteria. It’s highly innovative and highly competitive.”

The CRTC is currently holding an inquiry into whether to prohibit Videotron’s “Unlimited Music” offering that exempts data metering of certain music services. In January 2015, the CRTC shut down mobile TV services from Bell and Videotron that offered video programming on the basis of flat rate charges per hour rather than charging for data consumed.

A few years ago, I wrote

It is difficult to understand how consumers can benefit from restrictions in the types of offers available to them.

How can it possibly be in the interest of end-users to have only one price structure in the marketplace?

In another post, “Zero is better than nothing“, I wrote “Consumers can benefit greatly from creative, competitive, targeted pricing plans. Regulators need to be careful imposing restrictions on the evolution of business models.” Those words came out 2 weeks before the CRTC took away choice for Canadian consumers to have mobile TV.

Banning zero rating has the result of raising prices for some consumers and lowering prices for no one.

The FCC is making it clear that it won’t stand in the way of innovative pricing models. A month ago, I asked “Does CRTC policy inhibit investment“?

Will the CRTC continue to deny Canadian service providers the opportunity to offer consumers the choices of services available to Americans?

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