Joining a growing group of mobile carriers using controversial zero-rated data policies, Verizon on Tuesday introduced FreeBee Data, a “sponsored data” service that will exempt some content from usage-based data caps.
Verizon said FreeBee Data is being offered under two models – FreeBee Data 360, a usage-based version that enables partners to sponsor some or all of their content on mobile apps or mobile Web sites, and a coming data exempt version that’s delivered on a sponsored, pay-per-click basis. Both are “open to any content provider,” the carrier said.
Verizon’s offering follows the November 2015 launch of “Binge On” from T-Mobile that relies on a proprietary, bandwidth-efficient encoding system that delivers mobile video in 480p format, and zero-rates streams from several content partners, including Netflix, HBO, Starz, Sling TV, Hulu, among several others. Network neutrality advocates have been critical of Binge On (T-Mobile maintains it’s well within the rules), though it has already earned some praise from FCC chairman Tom Wheeler.