Anna-Maria Kovacs: “What the FCC Missed in its Zero Rating Report” (Wireless Week)

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Wireless Week

Chairman Wheeler of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) directed the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) to issue a report on zero-rating and sponsored data plans offered by various wireless providers. The report affirms that zero-rating plans are both popular and good for consumers. The report then criticizes specific sponsored data plans that have launched. What is most worthy of amazement is the process by which the report arrived at the conclusions about sponsored data plans. The report offers no evidence that any of the current sponsored data plans cause any harm to competitors. Indeed, the report offers no data or evidence at all, an absence that is remarkable for an agency that claims to be data-driven. The report raises hypothetical concerns about ways in which sponsored data plans might be used in an anti-competitive way. The report speculates, but provides no indication of actual harm.