Report: Google wants to make mobile data free for some apps on Android One devices


android one phones

In a move that sounds like a page taken straight out of T-Mobile’s handbook, Google is now reportedly exploring options that could make mobile data free for some apps on Android One devices. According to sources from The Information, Google has been engaging in talks with both carriers and 3rd party developers in emerging markets like India to give specific applications a “zero rating.” This means data used by the application wouldn’t count against a user’s data allotment, something that could especially come in handy in markets like India where mobile data can be costly, hindering users from using all the many Android apps and services at their disposal.

Google’s Android One initiative targets emerging markets with affordable Android handsets that are always up-to-date thanks to software updates straight from Google. While that may sound like a small incentive to some, the prospect of being able to use apps like WhatsApp or Facebook without any restrictions could be push Google needs to make some headway in those markets.

The report goes onto to mention that while Google may have plans to expand zero ratings outside of these initial launch areas, don’t expect it to arrive in the US or Europe anytime soon. Call us crazy, but this probably wouldn’t sit too well with Net Neutrality advocates here in the states. Still, it’s a nice thought.

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. So Google publicly and adamantly advocates net neutrality and then does this. Which one do you want Google?

    1. This is just giving away something for free. Nothing to do with prioritizing packets.

      1. It’s the same thing as TMobile and their music streaming. Giving something for free and something for free is prioritization.

        1. I don’t think you understand.

        2. No, it’s not. It would be a different story if T-Mo was picking specific music services they prefer, or worse if music services were paying them to be included. That’s not the case through, and T-Mo tries to include any music service their customers request. And what they’re doing is really prioritization at all… they don’t block or slow down services not included in the deal, nor do they speed up or favor in any way the bits coming from the services that are included.

          1. BS. They are picking the services they want or else they would allow any streaming service.

      2. So your cable company could set a list of websites that don’t count against your data usage (what you are calling “giving for free”). Then set the data caps real low and make sites that compete against them (like Netflix) count against your data usage. That’s precisely the sort of thing that Net Neutrality is trying to prevent.

        1. That would be a problem. But we don’t know how this is going to be implemented (is it only for Google services?). And data caps are already “real low” in the countries this affects.

          1. It doesn’t really matter which services are set to not count data. It should be all or none. Otherwise it’s putting in place a system that will soon be abused.

          2. “It should be all or none” That’s what I mean by it depends on how it implemented. For example, if all traffic from email providers is free, fine, but if it’s only gmail traffic, that’s a problem.

          3. Do you think an ISP could maintain a current whitelist of every single email server that exists on the Internet? They couldn’t simply whitelist the common email ports or else people would start tunneling all sorts of data through those ports.

            Net Neutrality expects the ISP to treat all Internet data equally.

        2. Net Neutrality could give us FTL and replicators with how people are praising it.

          If the government/corporations don’t screw up Net Neutrality I’m sure that the idiotic/indifferent masses will.

      3. This is a direct violation of net neutrality principles if true. For instance, if Netflix doesn’t count towards your data cap but Hulu does, why wouldn’t you use Netflix? It treats smaller players unfairly and increases the cost of competing. Now I’m not suggesting that this is how it will be structured and not all cases are necessarily bad for consumers, but it is a violation of the principles of net neutrality.

      4. It’s Google, a corporation, having a say in what is and isn’t free. If AT&T did this, you’d all be having a fit.

    2. Which is it, Google? Better keep your story straight.

      I think people may be overreacting a bit to this. Just because women initially started wearing shorter skirts at some point for various reasons didn’t mean that every women would become a whore and psychotic as a consequence.

      Sometimes free data is just free data, and sometimes slippery slopes are a fallacy, not a reality.

  2. It sounds like the purpose of this is just to get carriers not to count data from certain apps against your data cap (i.e., to make some data free). This wouldn’t give bandwidth preference to any type or source of data, so it’s different from net neutrality.

    1. Net neutrality isn’t just about bandwidth preference. Net neutrality means that all apps and services are treated equal. No caps on some apps and not on others, no fast lanes and slow lanes, and no favoritism towards certain apps or services. No discrimination, period. The principle of net neutrality is that customers aren’t unfairly influenced by the corporate interests.

      1. I guess it’s similar to what Kyle from South Park said except it’s about data and not about making fun of things: “Either all of it is free data or none of it is!”

    2. Look at it this way. Since those apps are “free”, they will be used more frequently and their advertisers get more plugs generating them more revenue. It favors the Googles and Facebooks while potentially hurting smaller apps from gaining a foothold. Who gets to choose which apps get preference?

  3. I see both arguments when tmobile said that music services were free from data charges and accumulation.

    But then this discriminated against data and it’s essentially what the idea of an open internet is about. You can’t single out data that’s preferred over another.

    If it’s free, great. But that will find a way to counter that

    1. T-Mo’s system doesn’t “prefer” one kind of data over another. The bits are transmitted just the same. The only difference is how they’re accounted for. Even amongst music services, they give free data from several different services and are adding more all the time (based on customer requests), so they aren’t really playing favorites. Also, the music services aren’t paying them to do this

      You could make the case that StraightTalk is violating Net Neutrality, as they’ll cancel you’re service if you use any video streaming service. Why should they care how you use your allotted data?

      As for Google’s plan for Android One, the devil’s in the details as they say. Whether or not it’s bad for Net Neutrality depends on how it’s implemented. If it only applies to Google services, that’d definately be a problem.

      1. BS. It’s still up to T-Mobile to say if they’re in or not…

        1. They add any service with at least a few requests. It usually takes them some time to add them though, because they need to determine how to identify traffic from the service accurately.

          1. It’s still up to T-Mobile, ultimately, to have the final say. This is exactly contrary to net neutrality.

  4. Inb4 android one spoof

  5. Good to see Google doesn’t give a damn about net neutrality…

  6. Net neutrality winers need to stop wining. This is *exactly* the same as making an app free instead of paid. As making the use of some online service (music, video, etc) free instead of paid.

    YouTube needs to be forbidden, because it’s free, whereas Netflix isn’t?

    1. your ignorant to the whole debate. this stifles the competition in developed countries like the united states, that depend on competition. In emerging countries, this is an excellent idea. If you have a competing service (i.e. yahoo mail to gmail) its going to be devastating if it comes to countries with developed free market economies.if your the weather channel, say goodbye to mobile profits because google now’s weather doesn’t use your data plan. Spotify or pandora? nope, play music is not using your data so use that instead!

      net neutrality is going to define the future of this country more then any other topic on the political plate outside of maybe health care and education.

      by the way, you pay for youtube. you just don’t realize it. a) you pay in time you spend watching ads. b) you pay for it indirectly by purchasing axe body spray because you saw an ad on youtube for it. double pits to chesty!

      1. I think the majority of people on Earth who see Youtube ads don’t want to buy the things they see in the ads. Plus adblockers are all over the place (including for Youtube).

        The only thing people are paying for these days is the insanity that is the direct result of American politics/psychotics and foreign policy.

        1. thats the point, you don’t think the ad for gillette razors makes you want to buy one, but when walking down the razor isle thats what most men grab for, because it has the most ads… advertising dollars are what make google a billion dollar company. So what are you trying to say here that ads are not effective? because that is insane….

          1. No, I’m trying to say that cacti is a funny word.

            What I believe is that those ads are annoying and that many people block them as a result. Website ads get blocked by people too. Ads can’t be very effective if you see them half as often as you used to before adblockers.

  7. Ironically, there are 14 billion PPL who are forbidden to use any kind of Google service there.

    1. What?

      1. That’s true, mate. Google has been blocked in China for nearly a year.

        1. You could have mentioned the Great Firewall or China to avoid confusion (and exaggerated less). Also, I’m not Australian so I’m not your mate.

          1. Seriously? That was just another kind of expression. And the word mate, I treated it as bro or dude. Does your nationality matter so much? Can’t it be used as a description for all human beings?

          2. Mate = mostly Australian/English people use this

            Bro = people just joking around or (way worse) bro-fags who start fights in bars and use the word at least once every 20 seconds (aka Scumbag Steve’s terrible cousins)

            Dude = people joking around/surfers/Australians

            And finally (just so you know I’m not really being completely serious):

            Buddy/guy/friend = Canadians

  8. For those unaware, Facebook’s done something similar under their “” branding, and they’re receiving hate from a minor (but loud) group of people. Why? Because even though they position it as a public service, they’ve ridiculously picky about who gets into this free tier. For example, Bing is free, Google isn’t. And let’s not expect Google to play a fair game either.

    At the end of the day, the principles of Net Neutrality (that both Google and Facebook love to talk about in the US) are very clear: every bit is to be treated equally. Android One devices already come with “free data packs” for certain amount of time on a few carriers, and that’s how things should be.

    1. Who uses Bing? Yet another example of a complete disconnection between the decision-makers at Facebook and the people who use their services. This comes on top of their separate Messenger and Facebook apps against many people’s wishes and criticism.

  9. Let’s say that I am a developer, I have an app that makes buttloads of money from people using my app. Would net neutrality prevent me from being able to build my own data service (public wifi) that lets people use my app for free?

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