Remember back in the day when you would dial a “1-800” number and it didn’t affect your landline phone bill, even if it was long distance? Verizon Wireless has announced a new type of “800” service for mobile data plans.
On Tuesday the company announced its “FreeBee Data” service, which will allow third-party companies to pick up the tab for your data usage when you download content from their apps, websites and services.
For example, The New York Times might pay for the data readers consume when reading the publications news stories or viewing its online videos. A music app such as Spotify may choose to pay for a users data when streaming music from its service.
Starting January 25, Hearst Magazines, Gameday and Verizon-owned AOL will sponsor some mobile content for 1,000 test subscribers.
If the test run is successful Verizon hopes to launch its toll-free data service later in 2016.
The company is also testing another program that will allow content companies to pay Verizon per gigabyte rather than through each separate click.
“In today’s digital economy, FreeBee Data is a departure from the one size fits all approach to marketing,” said Colson Hillier, head of consumer products at Verizon. “We look forward to providing our Verizon Wireless subscribers with more options to access amazing content without data charges.”
Verizon isn’t alone in its testing of toll-free data, AT&T has been playing around with a similar system for two years, but it hasn’t went to Verizon’s lengths to promote the product.
T-Mobile offers “Binge On” which allows for unlimited data for certain customers and on certain services. However, T-Mobile has come under fire for limiting video to 480p playback. However, Hulu, Netflix, and other services included in Binge On are not paying for that privilege, instead T-Mobile is eating the cost.
Verizon’s toll-free data plan is raising some eyebrows. Net neutrality supporters believe companies with deep pockets could fit the bill for free data, which creates a new barrier to fair entry for other internet companies that can’t afford to pay for free data among their customers.