Verizon to begin testing 'toll-free' data
By Staff Writer
Verizon will begin testing "sponsored data" scheme or what is being referred to "toll-free" data in the next few days. The sponsored data will let Verizon users to access the Internet without having to use up any of their monthly data plan.
The initial testing phase of sponsored data will only be available for a few companies, according to Re/code. But the program is expected to be available to all consumers as the content partners next year at an affordable rate.
Verizon Executive Vice President Marni Walden said this week that the company has built the capabilities to break down any data that is carried across its network and have all or a portion of that sponsored.
According to The Next Web, the sponsored data program would work much like toll-free calling. When a customer dials a toll-free number, the related company on the other end will take the cost for the call. Sponsored data program allows the third party to pick up the data charges while a consumer is accessing its content.
Verizon's rival AT&T has been working on the sponsored data program since early 2014, but it remains in limited testing. AT&T customers are not billed for the sponsored data usage and the sponsored data is broken out separately from their regular data plan.
AT&T also offers "data perks" program in October, which allows the customers to get up to 1 GB additional data added to their account by viewing offers or signing up for various trials.
According to T.C. Sottek on The Verge, such programs as Verizon's sponsored data or AT&T's will destroy net neutrality whose core principle is non-discrimination.
Sottek mentioned sponsored data as the opposite of fair competition that gives big companies an edge on the internet. Bigger companies will be able to afford to pick up the cost for data use while smaller one will not.
Sponsored data program is said to be one of the company's attempts to control both the network and the content that travels over it. Earlier this year, Verizon acquired AOL for $4.4 billion.
The company's CEO and Chairman Tim Armstrong said AOL was building toward becoming the largest media technology company in the world. Verizon also launched Go90 program to reach millennial users.
However, sponsored data program can also be considered as a proverbial win-win for both companies and customers. Verizon believes that the company has the right to play above the network in both platforms as well as services.