FCC to Take a Closer Look at Free Data Programs from T-Mobile, Comcast, and AT&T

FCC to Take a Closer Look at Free Data Programs from T-Mobile, Comcast, and AT&T

Bloomberg reports the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier this week sent letters to T-Mobile, AT&T, and Comcast requesting information about those provider’s services that allow customers to access certain content without it counting against their monthly data usage.

FCC to Take a Closer Look at Free Data Programs from T-Mobile, Comcast, Others


While the FCC has been careful to note the inquiry is “not an investigation” and designed to help the FCC “stay informed as to what the practices are,” there have been some questions about whether such services violate net neutrality rules.

The Commission is concerned about T-Mobile’s Bing On program, which allows customers to stream DVD-quality video from popular video streaming sites without it counting against their data caps, AT&T’s Sponsored Data deal that allows customers to view sponsored content with no data charges, and Comcast’s Stream TV service that allows viewing of streaming video without counting against the customer’s data caps.

The FCC voted in favor of new Net Neutrality rules earlier this year that would prevent providers from offering prioritized service for payment, or from blocking or throttling web traffic. However, it isn’t for certain that such rules would apply in the case of the three provider’s individual programs.

Last month, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said the organization would keep an eye on T-Mobile’s Binge On service, but praised it as being both “highly innovative and highly competitive.”

Spokespersons for all three companies expressed a willingness to talk with the Commission, and expected their programs would be in line with Net Neutrality rules. The FCC has requested that representatives from T-Mobile, AT&T, and Comcast all be made available for discussions by January 15, 2016.

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