Data caps are an unfortunate reality. Everyone hates ’em, but we all have to deal with ’em. Well, those of us not on T-Mobile — they play Pokémon Go for free, and have you seen their Binge On program?! Now, AT&T has joined what’s called “zero rating.” If a service is zero rated, that means that you get high quality streaming (Netflix, Spotify, HBO, etc.) with none of the high fees that come with data overages, because zero rated stuff doesn’t count toward data usage.
Hold up. How is this a bad thing?! Well, because of a thing called net neutrality — or lack thereof. Net neutrality is the idea that all internet service providers (ISPs) should provide access to ALL content without playing favorites. This means competition is seriously limited when ISPs don’t practice net neutrality and the smaller guys have to fend for themselves. If all this is giving you a headache, just think of it as big corporations squashing small businesses. In other words. It’s NOT FAIR.
AT&T’s new DirecTV Now service (remember, zero rated) sounds like a dream come true for cord cutters. But even people who aren’t familiar with the concept of net neutrality can see that AT&T is playing favorites BIG time, because *they own DirecTV.* Yep. And it gets worse.
AT&T is also offering sponsored data to other companies. So if a service like Netflix gets on par with DirecTV, it would have to pay AT&T to not have its streaming count against users’ data caps. Bigwigs like Netflix can afford to pay those premiums, but smaller companies can’t because they were built on the premise of an open internet, where the people — not the corporations — choose what they want.
Lots of customers defend services like this because they believe they are given more for their money, but what they don’t realize is that the companies are creating a need. They’re stripping the internet down to basics and offering good features at a premium. And now that AT&T is looking to buy Time Warner, free Game of Thrones streaming might eventually be limited to AT&T customers only. *Gasp*
If you’ve ever played Monopoly, you know that game destroys friendships. And that’s what’s happening to our beloved internet. Yikes!
What do you think of AT&T’s actions? Will you be subscribing to DirecTV Now? Tell us @BritandCo!
(h/t The Verge, photos via Getty)