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Pokemon Go best example yet of why zero rating is bad

T-Mobile’s offer of free data penalizes all other games and provides unnecessary advantages.

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Pokemon Go Zero Rating:

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It’s difficult at the best of times for the average person to care about net neutrality and even more so about¬†zero rating, which is when internet providers exempt certain internet applications from data caps.

Fortunately, Pokemon Go – the mobile game sensation that’s sweeping the world – has produced perhaps the best case yet as to why people should care.

In the United States, T-Mobile is offering to exempt Pokemon Go from its data caps for a year. That goes with some of its other zero rating offers, including the exemption of a number of video and music streaming services.

That’s great, right? Who wouldn’t want to play as much Pokemon Go as they want, without worrying about using up their monthly data allotment?

That’s certainly how wireless carriers are selling zero rating – as a boon to consumers.

But it doesn’t take much effort to see the downside. What about all the other games out there? Why should those continue to count against data caps? In the case of T-Mobile, which is happily exempting all kinds of services, why are there caps in the first place?

Suppose you’re a person who plays a lot of mobile games on your phone, some of which use up data. You’ve tried Pokemon Go and decided it isn’t for you. Suddenly, it isn’t a case of Pokemon Go players getting a bonus – it’s a case of you getting penalized for your preferences.

Why does T-Mobile get to choose which games cost you data?

It’s worse for the creators. While the people at Niantic, the company behind Pokemon Go, are probably happy that T-Mobile has voluntarily given their product a boost, there are likely many other game developers now quietly grumbling about why their games aren’t exempted from caps.

It’s an unfair advantage that Pokemon Go doesn’t need, considering its runaway popularity. And, as Wired notes, the game doesn’t use that much data anyway.

By offering “free” data, T-Mobile is underlining the big problem with zero rating. It’s a bonus for the chosen few – often the big and successful who don’t need it – but a penalty for everyone else.

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3 Comments on Pokemon Go best example yet of why zero rating is bad

  1. How hypocritical of them… which is pretty much what I’ve come to expect anyway.

    Initially they claimed, at least here in Canada, that they needed bandwidth caps on non-cellular based services (cell data wasn’t really a thing back then) because of supposed ‘bandwidth hogs’ with the claim “why should everyone else subsidize heavy users?” Go figure they want to zero-rate a chosen few ‘heavy use’ apps/services at the cost of everyone else (by their logic.)

    The sad thing is, they are already charging for access at a frighteningly escalating price and now they want to double and triple dip in the long run by charging users for access, and service or content providers for users accessing them. Especially considering 99% of the internet isn’t created or even curated by ISPs (did they not already zero rate sweat equity from the get-go?), but all of which makes access useful in the first place.

  2. T-Mobile is now fining its customers for choosing to play Pokemon Go instead of choosing to play Candy Crush.

    This violates existing law.

    It is a lot like their very anti-consumer “Binge-On” program, where T-Mobile has a tiny set of approved video providers you can watch for free. The rest, the vast majority, they will fine you for watching.

  3. It’s a bit misleading on T-Mobile’s part – Capitalizing on the popularity of the game by creating this “generous” offer to new subscribers. The game itself actually uses very little data from what I’ve experienced…

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