Last month, we wrote about Verizon accepting beta users for a new “sponsored data” program. Today, Verizon has officially announced the program they are calling “FreeBee.” FreeBee will allow brands to provide content to Verizon users without it counting against their data plans. It’s very similar to T-Mobile’s Music Freedom and Binge On programs, but with even more net neutrality implications.
FreeBee will come in two versions for business to offer content, but consumers won’t notice the difference. Basically, anything that has the FreeBee icon (shown above) is content that won’t go towards your data allowance. It could be a video, website, app, or more. At launch, only AOL, Hearst Magazines, and Gameday will provide sponsored content to the test users.
Net neutrality supporters don’t like “sponsored data” programs because they give an advantage to the businesses and brands that can afford to pay for content. Users will prefer the content highlighted with the FreeBee icon because it won’t cost them any data. T-Mobile’s programs aren’t quite so bad because they aren’t taking money from the streaming services. Verizon is taking money from business to highlight their content.
FreeBee will arrive later this month for testers. What do you think of the program? Is this a slap in the face to net neutrality?