Cell service plans come with separate tariffs for regular data and "social" data, which works only in the walled garden of Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Insta, etc., and the "social" data is much cheaper.
Even though the positive reinforcement was not as draconian as stuff like this, where they're obviously trying to dissuade use, it was still pretty creepy.
Interesting idea. It's usually the last-mile that's the hard part - I presume that's the reason it's no longer done?
Did 'local content' include, say, Netflix?
Even better is the eco-system it spawned. Myself and others ended up with 2 connections & network magic to split traffic dynamically to optimise cost.
Netflix wasn't a thing back then in SA (and even now isn't big).
However these local only packages did come with access to the ISP's usenet server so people downloaded mountains of ahem linux ISOs.
>I presume that's the reason it's no longer done?
No. Couple of big undersea cables hit SA shortly after. So current thinking is more managing capacity during peak times with various incentives ("night time data" etc)
Take the plan I'm on with T-Mobile. I pay a fixed monthly amount and get 3 GB of data per month. If I go over 3 GB, T-Mobile reserves the right to give me lower speed for the rest of the month.
T-Mobile has a thing called "Music Freedom". Under Music Freedom, they zero rate around 45 streaming services.
Look at this from my point of view as a consumer. I signed up for 3 GB of full speed data a month, and I get that. There is never a situation due to Music Freedom's zero rating where I find myself short on data and think "dammit...I could have downloaded this if it weren't for that zero rating!".
All that Music Freedom does from my consumer standpoint is make it so sometimes I get more than the 3 GB my plan entitles me to.
Compare this to throttling and blocking. With throttling and blocking if T-Mobile were, say, throttling Skype or blocking it, then I could find myself saying "dammit...I paid for this and they are not giving it to me!".
In the Music Freedom case, they give me all I paid for and they toss some free extra on top. In blocking/throttling, they interfere with me using what I paid for. From a consumer point of view equating these two as net neutrality advocates do just seems odd on the face of it.
If we keep net neutrality focused just on making sure that we get the data we pay for, free of blocking and throttling, and if the ISP wants to give people extras on top of that let them, and I think net neutrality would then have near universal strong support among consumers, maybe even sufficient to get laws through Congress.
But what about the actual potential harms to competition from zero rating, which is one of the main points brought up in favor of covering it under net neutrality?
We can deal with that without shoving it into net neutrality. We already have a whole legal framework and associated regulatory infrastructure in place to deal with that: antitrust. We can use that to distinguish between the kind of zero rating this is probably good for consumers (Music Freedom) and the kind that is not (ISP zero rating just their own streaming service).
If I didn't get included in your zero rated list of services, or put forth the effort to conform to your amp-like provider-specific rules, then I am blocked or throttled or charged more for or whatever.
Pipes picking and choosing winners should be a no compromise situation. But you have to tackle the lack of alternative ISPs before you can get there (and you then probably will get there even without legislation).
If you aren’t willing to put forth the effort to be competitive, whose fault is that?
In the end, zero-rating is the exact same as charging more for some content.
This is like the difference between charging $0.95 for something with a $0.05 credit card fee versus charging $1.00 and giving a $0.05 discount for cash customers.
The only difference is the messaging.
This should raise antitrust issues. The competitors could sue under antitrust law to stop the practices and get damages, or the government could handle enforcement, or both.
Those two are indistinguishable and certainly not good for the consumer.
Zero rating just their own service and a bunch of competitors still has the same overall effect of raising the barrier to entry and thus prices with absolutely no benefit to the consumer.
The "benefit" of "free traffic on top" is an illusion, there is no free traffic. You are buying a 20 GB/month package (or whatever the actual value is) of which 17 GB are limited to particular services, it's just that it is framed as a "3 GB traffic with music free" package in order to manipulate the public into objection to network neutrality by then claiming that network neutrality would make it illegal to offer the "free traffic", which is absurd as any carrier is free to offer a "3 GB/month with 17GB/month free on top" package--which is exactly what we would see if net neutrality were a thing, except that it would be labeled as a "20 GB/month" package. The price they are asking obviously is paying for the 20 GB plus their margin anyway, and the price obviously is not the price that the market is willing to pay for "3 GB/month", but for "as much traffic as I actually use per month", which isn't 3 GB but 20 GB.
All of this zero rating stuff is marketing bullshit to make you believe they are on your side when they limit your freedom. There is zero reason why I shouldn't be able to buy a 20 GB/month package at the same price as the current "3 GB plus music free", except that I could stream music from my own server instead of having to pay yet another service from a number of winners chosen by my carrier.
It's a trope when someone points out that google isn't free, and if you are getting something for free then you are not the customer actual. With zero rating, it's not even free! So then you ".. pay a fixed monthly amount .." to be the carrier's product, no?
1. Network operators exempting an entire class of service, such as T-Mobile's “Music Freedom” which has the same terms for everyone who applies
2. Network operators accepting money from specific service providers to exempt only those services, such as the Facebook-only service offered in some parts of the world
Most people consider the second form a problem since it heavily favors large companies, especially since a less-favored company doesn't even have the guarantee of being able to reach a deal at all, but opinions vary more about the first and a lot of advocates have either inadvertently or deliberately confused the issue. I'm choosing to see that advocacy as well-intended but I think it's alienated a lot of people who really don't see a problem with the first form (at least as long as it's really open) but would agree to bans on the second.
Which is irrelevant as the terms themselves are discriminatory, plus the mere fact of having to apply is a major barrier to entry.
If you want to build a new streaming service of any kind (a niche radio station, say?) in a world with network neutrality, you need a server with an internet connection, so the barrier to entry is ten bucks a month or so and you can start streaming to a few hundred listeners. If you need to apply for zero rating, you now have to read and understand the requirements of a few hundred carriers around the globe, adapt your software so it can meet all those varying requirements ...
Also, it is inherently incompatible with many use cases. I have my own server, and I can stream my own music. What are my chances of success if I tried to get T-Mobile to zero rate traffic from my own streaming server? Do I have to allow them to listen into the connection?
And then, what if I wanted to sell a device for people to do the same, say? A home NAS that allows people to stream music to their smartphone? How do I get T-Mobile to zero-rate that?
> but I think it's alienated a lot of people who really don't see a problem with the first form (at least as long as it's really open)
But the problem is that if you don't fight the first, you effectively get the same result as the second. The long-term effect on innovation and prices is the same, as it is inherently not "really open". Also, carriers offering these packages is not an accident, it is intentional manipulation by choosing a misleading framing. But choosing not to fight the framing doesn't help you--while you might have more allies then, you would effectively also not have anything left that is worth fighting for. The idea of selling 20 GB/month packages to the public as "3 GB/month plus music traffic free on top" in order to then be able to correctly claim that "this would be illegal with net neutrality" in order to make people incorrectly think "with net neutrality I would only get 3 GB for the same price" is genius, but you really shouldn't fall for it.
We also had service tiering, such as pop/imap being priced differently than http, etc...
Free mobile then came in and used the same tactic they used on adsl, single pricing, large amount of data, no differentiation between websites / ports / data types (even including peer to peer) etc... And others had to follow.
So we're in a status quo right now, but just like our fixed line Internet, its quality depends on one of the providers not aligning with the others. If they change their mind, get bought or whatever, the game could change quickly.
Took me a minute to parse, since I didn't realize that universal was the name of a content company, rather than a service plan's name and access to all music.
Kind of reminds me of the (also French) company Total, who seems like they were invented to make tabulation charts about the oil industry hard to read.
- cheaper social
- more expensive non-social
- combination of those two
I really don't expect it's the first option, unless they're really in a race to the bottom. The third option makes sense even without subsidies - offer something "nice" to typical customers and offset it with other traffic.
The only thing that matters is that Whatsapp messenger is cheaper to use than, for example, signal messenger.
How does this make any sense? If anything, making general access more expensive is going to drive consumers to move to a different provider.
For example look at roaming rates in Europe. For decades sending messages/data from another country was crazy expensive - with every single provider. Once EU ruled that roaming charges in the EU should not apply, there was no crisis or huge rise of prices to compensate the losses. Once it was forced, companies started to race each other to announce how awesome they are, being the first in the country to provide free roaming.
So making WhatsApp cheaper than the base price is one thing. Making Signal more expensive than the base price is quite different.
And then for all the customers, as the incumbents having established a moat can become increasingly abusive.
They are clear about the amount of metered data you get too. Not that it's great but it's not as bad as it could be.
It's not much help that my clone is also free to use if nobody knows unless they go hunting through the fine print, as the initial assumption will be that it's a charged-for alternative.
"use all your social network apps without using up your data allowance", and then they show you a list of apps, but all social apps should be zero-rated and if they are not you can report it. Same with video apps, music apps, etc.
If you think this is so bad, then ask consumers if they like it or not. People here seem to put their principles before what consumers actually want or not. The job of the market is to serve consumers. Paying 3€ a month to have unlimited data on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp is a sweet deal for 99% of consumers here I'm sure.
The market is created by corporations. It's job is to serve the corporations by creating the illusion it serves the consumers. That's why advertising / marketing is a thing.
Some would naively say that the market is created by the consumer, but you don't need most of what you consume, and you didn't even want a lot of what you consume until you were told it existed. (the term "you" is not necessarily referring to you personally here, but "the average consumer", on aggregate.)
We saw it before and it wasn’t good. In short the carriers had control and companies that wanted access to consumers had to strike deals with the carrier, those deals as a result were very generous to the carrier (eg. they took 50% of revenue).
This is not good for the consumer over the long term.
I'm curious on what the pricing differences are.
Carriers see communication services as their turf, and they go to byzantine lengths to protect that.
Politically it can get funny.
If you work at a handset manufacturer, and sit in on sales calls, and one of your team members brings up anything remotely related to this or VOIP, you might see the carrier buyers get visibly upset and literally walk out of the room.
I could never tell if they were 'actually' upset, or 'pretend professionally' upset.
But it's funny the games that are played.
The carriers in their inability to cooperate to improve call quality is pushing their customers to the alternatives they fear most.
I used to be really frustrated with a few things a few years back but thinking back on it they’ve improved a lot since.
The only thing that still bothers me is the coverage. It’s usually fantastic where I live/work and outside of that it’s ok to great with really rare dead spots. To their credit it used to be non-existent/terrible to great.
Is your anecdote over a decade old? That may have happened to a much weaker extent before IMS carrier deployments became widespread, and before the consolidation of the Android and iOS platforms. Not to say that VoIP apps like Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, WeChat Voice, KaoKao, etc. plug into carrier IMS cores, but carriers definitely did see the writing on the wall and prepared for the cannabilization of their voice revenue for quite some time.
Note that Apple devices enabled voice-over-LTE as part of their iOS 8 rollout on iPhone 6's or higher, and Google recently figured out how to do the same for some Project Fi phones back in Feburary 2017.
The last remnant of strong wireless VoIP app vs. wireless voice differentiation practices is mainly the Middle East, but I believe handset manufacturers around the world generally do not experience such vehement (or even any) pushback from carriers these days.
Carriers will fight tooth and nail, 2018 and long beyond for anything related to data, voice, texting, essentially anything services related.
The bulk of their revenues at least are still made up of 'voice packages'. Do you think that they are just going give that up?
They will fight any handset maker on this - and by the way apps, and search.
Tooth and nail, balls to the wall an only Apple can basically do as they please.
They'll try to negotiate a cut of VOIP revenue, they'll demand that such apps cannot be preloaded, they'll demand a cut of search revenues from Google. They'll demand a cut of app store revenues. Or demand that their own app stores be installed.
Anything voice, data or services oriented they want a cut of.
" but carriers definitely did see the writing on the wall and prepared for the cannabilization of their voice revenue for quite some time."
They are not - moreover, there are 10's of billions to be made in the meantime as voice wanes - moreover, I think we'll see regular voice services with 'phone numbers' for a very long time yet.
Consider net neutrality - it's an attempt by carriers to undercut major players and demand more revenue for QoS etc..
No, it's a huge, huge turf war. One of the biggest 'open wars' in business because the fault lines are always changing whereas in most other industries there are many norms and practices that have developed between different layers of the value chain that have stabilized over time.
Between carriers, handset manufacturers ... it's blood.
> apple got halfway in 2015 and google started to roll over it in 2017
> samsung still show a permanent "calls over wifi" notification
I think "over a decade" may be a stretch for non-google/apple, unfortunately.
One app is saying this is occurring without anyone being able to duplicate the claim in a lab. Bloomberg could do better by getting a second source.
This is simply false.
In the 2010 Title I regs, much lighter net neutrality rules were applied to mobile broadband than were applied to fixed broadband; in the 2015 Title II regs essentially the same rules applied to fixed broadband were applied to mobile.
As an aside you'll note that now, and then, when companies are found to be doing they'll immediately scream "reasonable network management." Search for sprint "reasonable network management" and you'll get years of results such as . Give them a cut of the profits and suddenly that congestion would be considered much more reasonable - a la Netflix/Comcast.
 - https://www.sprint.com/en/legal/legal-regulatory-and-consume...
 - https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2015/10/nonpr...
 - https://civsourceonline.com/2015/10/15/sprint-sued-by-non-pr...
Using a VPN always fixes the issue.
2009 - NSA offering 'billions' for Skype eavesdrop solution 
2011 - Microsoft buys Skype for $8.5 billion. Why, exactly? 
2012 - Skype replaces P2P supernodes with Linux boxes hosted by Microsoft 
2013 - Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages Subhead: Skype worked to enable Prism collection of video calls 
Skype used to have a ton of issues with certain features requiring both parties be online. For instance, since it was peer-to-peer, sharing pictures and/or file attachments would fail if you weren't online at the same time as the other person, and of course, you were subject to the their upload speed for you (and each other person in a chatroom) to download it.
It's funny we lack the same conviction when ITCs actively degrade each other...
edit: fixed typo/grammar
Sorry for the confusion, ITC is not a thing, except in international trade contexts.
I haven't found a service that lets me dial worldwide (particularly USA/Canada) at anywhere near the rates Skype offers.
It‘s even better: it has a free US phone number. So my insurance could call me on that number while I‘m in Japan.
Recently this has been unified throughout Europe, including removing roaming charges for data, but calling from/to outside Europe is still very expensive. Even sending text messages (and receiving, which is normally free) is expensive. Thus Skype. And it's also cool to have a Skype-in number in Japan, which will be forwarded to your Skype account wherever you are, or to your phone if you're offline (if so configured). That's nice when you have very old family members who prefer to use a (local) phone call to get in touch. So Skype covers some use cases which I can't easily cover by other means. For the "normal" communication which doesn't involve a phone I mostly use other tools nowadays though.
With the restriction that Japan only allows Skype-in numbers if you're a resident.
For ordinary chats, groups, video conversations, file / movie / photo / album sharing etc. I use Naver Line, as nearly every Japanese do as far as I can tell.
And if having a conversation, I'd rather have an uninterrupted voice conversation than a mediocre video call that drops every 3 minutes.
It's more common to receive their landline extension or cell phone number.
When establishing a business relationship, saving a few cents by trying to figure out mutual VoIP options isn't worth the friction and lost opportunities.
Something doesn't add up.