Jan 11, 2017

Verizon and AT&T get a short-lived net neutrality warning

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

The Federal Communications Commission just dropped a report on a practice — known among wonks as "zero-rating" — where internet providers give customers free data for using certain websites or services.

This makes for great marketing copy. But consumer groups say the practice lets providers steer customers towards services the provider owns, violating rules the FCC approved to protect net neutrality.

What the FCC found:

  • AT&T and Verizon both offer products that "may harm consumers and competition by unreasonably discriminating in favor of downstream providers owned or affiliated with the network providers," per letters to lawmakers on the report.
  • T-Mobile's Binge On product and a second AT&T offering don't risk violating net neutrality rules, however.

Why this matters: This is the next big battlefield over net neutrality and the FCC just wrote the rules of engagement. Zero-rating products will only get bigger as internet providers use them to wring more revenue from their content businesses. AT&T has been particularly bullish with its much-hyped DirecTV Now offering.

Why this doesn't matter: The report isn't a binding rule. When Republicans take over the FCC from departing Chairman Tom Wheeler in nine days, they're not going to be inclined to go after companies for any type of zero-rating.


Hopefully the next FCC will take into account the views of our customers who greatly benefit from watching professional football, soccer, basketball and other great content on go90 free of data charges. — Will Johnson, SVP at Verizon

What that means: Thanks for playing, Mr. Chairman. See you around!

Go deeper

Stocks fall 4% as sell-off worsens

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Stocks fell more than 4% on Thursday, extending the market’s worst week since the financial crisis in 2008 following a spike in coronavirus cases around the world.

The big picture: All three indices closed in correction territory on Thursday, down over 10% from their recent record-highs amid a global market rout.

Coronavirus updates: California monitors 8,400 potential cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

33 people in California have tested positive for the coronavirus, and health officials are monitoring 8,400 people who have recently returned from "points of concern," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica, and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Watchdog opens probe into VA secretary over handling of sexual assault claim

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on Fox Business Network’s "The Evening Edit" on Jan. 7. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

The Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General Michael Missal said Thursday he had opened an investigation into VA Secretary Robert Wilkie after lawmakers demanded an inquiry into his handling of a sexual misconduct report, the Washington Post reports.

Context: Wilkie allegedly "worked to discredit" the credibility of Democratic aide and veteran Andrea Goldstein after she reported last fall "that a man groped and propositioned her in the main lobby of the agency's D.C. Medical Center," a senior VA official told the Post.