I have previously written about the rapid rise of “zero-rating”, that is the practice of carriers providing free access to specific web-sites or Internet services, but charging for access to other sites.
This is in direct conflict with the net neutrality ideology which argues that (citing wikipedia);
Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication.
Just recently, the Internet.org initiative sponsored by Facebook released an app for “zero-rating”. Through this app or the Facebook app, customers of Bharti Airtel’s Zambian subsidiary will be able to access the following services with free data charges.
- Facebook and Messenger
- Google Search (Search only. Data will be charged if you click a link to go to another site).
- Local services such as job portals.
- The women’s rights app WRAPP.
- A basic library of Zambian laws.
I really like the selection. It is so noble.
If I was somebody like Nelson Mandela, someone who was working hard to bring democracy, freedom and equality to Africa, I would probably select the exact same services.
At least for our children, I’m sure most parents would choose something similar to the above selection over the commercialism driven “net-neutral” Internet.
As these “zero-rating” data plans become more popular, we can expect many more services coming on board. I hope that Facebook and the carriers will manage to resist the lure of commercialism, and continue to select the good ones and reject the bad ones based on a high ethical standard.