Verizon Wireless is enabling its contract customers to use its go90 video app without paying for the data consumed.
Essentially, the move pulls together two previously separate initiatives – the youth-oriented Go90 app and the operator’s zero-rating programme FreeBee Data 360.
With FreeBee Data 360, content providers can sign up to provide consumers some or all of their mobile content – whether in an app or mobile website – without using consumers’ data plans.
Verizon Wireless argues that FreeBee Data 360 is open to any content provider, and hence its move with go90 is non-discriminatory.
A number of reports suggest the operator could face scrutiny from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) following its move.
FCC chief Tom Wheeler recently wrote to rivals AT&T and T-Mobile US asking for more information about their zero-rating plans.
Some observers drew comparisons between Verizon Wireless’ latest move and T-Mobile US’ Binge On, which waives data charges for certain video streaming services.
However, T-Mobile US is not setting itself up as content provider as Verizon Wireless has done by developing go90.
As Ars Technica noted, content from rival providers such as Netflix and YouTube does count against a user’s data cap. Alternatively, these providers can pay Verizon Wireless for their content to be delivered free.
News of Verizon Wireless’s go90 move emerged via an update for the app which told users: “If you’re a Verizon Wireless post-paid customer, stream Go90 videos over LTE without using up your data.” The update is for both iPhone and Android devices.