Just a few weeks after escaping a net neutrality investigation into data cap exemptions, Verizon has decided to let its FiOS mobile video stream on its wireless network without counting against data caps.
Customers who have Verizon FiOS TV at home and a Verizon Wireless smartphone plan can watch TV outside their homes without using up the data allotments on limited mobile plans, the company announced today. Just two months ago, the Federal Communications Commission accused Verizon Wireless of violating net neutrality rules by letting its Go90 video service stream without counting against customers’ data caps as the company charged other video providers for the same data cap exemptions (also known as “zero-rating”). But the FCC’s new Republican leadership rescinded that claim and ended the investigation last month, giving carriers the green light to expand data cap exemptions.
Verizon’s Go90 mobile video service hasn’t been a smashing success, and 155 employees were reportedly laid off as a result in January. But Verizon has 4.7 million FiOS TV subscribers, and the data cap exemptions might make them more likely to pay for Verizon’s mobile service as well.
Verizon Wireless recently brought back unlimited data, but it still sells other plans with data caps. Data-free streaming makes those plans “a better value than ever,” Verizon said.
“The FiOS Mobile App allows you to stream 140+ live channels outside of your home, watch your recorded DVR shows and movies while on the go, and access thousands of On Demand titles,” Verizon said. Users must download an FiOS Mobile application update to get the data cap exemption.
Though other companies can pay Verizon and AT&T to zero-rate their content, no major video providers have done so. Instead, paid zero-rating has mostly been used for advertising and marketing programs.
New FCC chair threw out net neutrality finding
Under former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the FCC argued that the cost of exempting all video from data caps would make it prohibitively expensive for online video services to compete on a level playing field against AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Verizon’s Go90. In the same investigation that targeted Verizon, Wheeler’s FCC also accused AT&T of violating net neutrality rules by exempting its own video from caps while charging other providers for the same treatment.
New Chairman Ajit Pai threw out the FCC’s previous findings. “Going forward, the FCC will not focus on denying Americans free data,” he said.