FCC wants to be informed about data-free streaming services from T-Mobile, AT&T, and Comcast

fcc and isps battle over data collection tom wheeler
FCC/Flickr
Streaming video and music without having it count against your data cap has become a more common industry practice recently, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants to learn more about it, reports Cnet.

According to the report, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler sent letters to T-Mobile, AT&T, and Comcast requesting more information about their respective services in regards to data-free streaming. The FCC asked that the companies respond no later than January 15, 2016 — though Wheeler emphasized that the letters were not part of a larger investigation on his agency’s part.

“Let me be real clear,” said Wheeler. “These were ‘let’s get informed letters.'”

The services in question are T-Mobile’s Binge On, AT&T’s Data Perks, and Comcast’s Stream TV. Binge On allows T-Mobile customers to stream video from several different sources without having it count against their monthly data allotments. Data Perks, meanwhile, is a “sponsored data” program that gives AT&T customers free additional data if they agree to take surveys and complete shopping offers. Finally, Stream TV allows customers to stream video without it counting against their monthly broadband data caps.

These services serve as examples of “zero rating,” an industry practice that allows Internet service providers to disallow data usage in certain applications to count against a customer’s monthly data cap. Although some have seen this as a practice that benefits customers, others argue it goes against the FCC’s net neutrality regulations, since they require that Internet services be treated the same across the board.

More specifically, some argue that zero rating puts smaller competitors at a disadvantage, since they don’t have the resources to offer similar data-free streaming services.

All three aforementioned companies don’t seem too concerned about the letters, however. A T-Mobile spokesperson said that the carrier “looks forward to talking to the FCC” about Binge On. Meanwhile, AT&T said that it’s reviewing the letter and that it’s “committed to innovation without permission and hopes the FCC is, too.” Finally, Comcast said its Stream TV service doesn’t violate net neutrality regulations since it doesn’t use public Internet pipelines.

The FCC did take a closer look at T-Mobile’s Binge On back in November, though Wheeler concluded that the service did not violate net neutrality rules by saying it was pro-innovation and pro-competition.

Product Review

The Ferrari Portofino is the super stallion you’ll want to drive every day

With the introduction of the Portofino, Ferrari addresses the California T’s stylistic shortcomings while improving comfort, convenience, and performance. There’s little “entry-level” about this super stallion.
Movies & TV

MoviePass returns to unlimited movies plan, but with plenty of restrictions

Troubled subscription-based movie service MoviePass is making headlines on a daily basis lately, and not in a good way. Here's a timeline of events for the company once described as Netflix for movie theaters.
Computing

T-Mobile goes after big cable companies, pilots wireless home internet service

In a shot at big cable companies, T-Mobile is launching a new pilot program to bring an unlimited wireless LTE home internet service to up to 50,000 homes across the United States by the end of 2019.
Computing

Don’t be fooled! Study exposes most popular phishing email subject lines

Phishing emails are on the rise and a new study out by the cybersecurity company Barracuda has exposed some of the most common phishing email subject lines used to exploit businesses. 
Mobile

Apple patents hint at improved Apple Store and unboxing experiences

It looks like Apple is working on ways to improve the Apple Store and product unboxing experiences. The company has been awarded a few patents, largely for tech that can be used in product packaging to ensure products stay charged.
Wearables

Fossil made a smartwatch in 2004, and it’s part of a new brand retrospective

Fossil has been making watches for 35 years, and to celebrate the anniversary, it has a new retrospective exhibit complete with the first smartwatch it made — the Wrist Net watch from 2004.
Wearables

Fossil is working on a smartwatch with BMW, and it’s coming next year

Fossil, the watch company that makes smartwatches under its own name and partners with other major brands too, intends to launch a smartwatch with car manufacturer BMW in the future.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for March 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Social Media

A Facebook, Instagram bug exposed millions of passwords to its employees

Facebook, Facebook Lite, and Instagram passwords weren't properly encrypted and could be viewed by employees, the company said Thursday. The network estimates millions of users were affected.
Mobile

Nokia phones are being investigated for allegedly sending data to China

Nokia could be in some hot water. According to recent reports, Nokia 7 models may be secretly sending data to China without the user knowing about it. Nokia says that the issue was a software bug and that it has been fixed.
Mobile

Diesel’s denim-inspired smartwatch straps are a casual, colorful must-own

Diesel will release two new versions of the On Full Guard 2.5 smartwatch later this year, with seriously cool, denim-inspired straps in classic Diesel colors. We tried them on at the Baselworld 2019 show.
Movies & TV

Apple’s next big event is set for March 25: Here’s what you can expect

Apple's next big event takes place on March 25 in Cupertino, California. The company is expected to make several announcements related to its services, including Apple TV, so follow our guide to get ready for the big event.
Wearables

Tips and tricks to get you started with your new Fitbit Inspire HR

The Inspire HR may be an entry-level fitness tracker in Fitbit's lineup, but the device still has plenty of features to explore. These are our favorite tips and tricks to help you use the Inspire HR to its fullest potential.
Mobile

How three simple words could be the difference between life and death

What3Words’ app-based address system gives a three-word code to every three-meter-square patch on the planet, with its accuracy and ease of use now catching the attention of first responders in the U.K.