Facebook loves "zero rating," when an internet provider takes bribes from online services to exempt them from data charges on their networks: Facebook says that having a roster of (Facebook-approved) services that are free-to-use benefits the poorest people in a country (and the fact that this also makes "Facebook" synonymous with "internet" for whole nations is merely incidental).
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When Facebook was desperately trying to game the Indian regulatory process to get approval for its "zero-rating" system (where it would bribe Indian ISPs to give it the power to decide which services would be free to access, and which would be capped and metered), one of the frequent arguments in favor of this "poor internet for poor people" was that the Wikimedia Foundation had struck similar deals in poor countries around the world, freeflagging Wikipedia use on networks that were otherwise strictly capped and metered.
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In Canada's hyper-concentrated and vertically integrated telcoms sector, data caps are a normal part of life; and where there are data-caps, there is cable company fuckery in the form of ""zero rating" -- when your telcom sells you to online service providers, taking bribes not to count their service against your cap. Read the rest
Yesterday, Google announced "Youtube Go," an "offline first" version of the popular video service designed for the Indian market where internet coverage is intermittent, provided by monopolistic carriers that have a history of network discrimination, and where people have a wide variety of devices, including very low-powered ones. Read the rest
"Zero rating" is a widely practiced business among mobile carriers: they solicit bribes from Internet companies in return for their services being exempted from the carriers' data-caps -- products from companies that pay the bribes can be used for free, while a billing meter ticks for every bit downloaded from their competitors. Read the rest
My latest Guardian column, 'Poor internet for poor people': India's activists fight Facebook connection plan, tells the story of how India's amazing Internet activists have beaten back Facebook's bid to become gatekeeper to the Internet for the next billion users. Read the rest
When India's independent telcoms regulator opened up a consultation on whether to allow Facebook to continue bribing some ISPs to charge extra for access to URLs that Facebook hadn't approved, they were flooded with 5.5 million confused comments in support of the $300 billion US company. Read the rest