Event: Zero Rating: Do Hard Rules Protect or Harm Consumers and Competition?

Zero Rating: Do Hard Rules Protect or Harm Consumers and Competition?

September 25th  | 10:00 am – 12:00pm
FHI 360 Board Room
1875 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington DC | 9th floor
Roslyn Layton
Aalborg University, Center for Communication, Media and Information Studies
Silvia Monica Elaluf-Calderwood
London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) – Department of Management

Zero rating, the practice of not charging data to a mobile broadband subscriber’s contract, has become increasingly popular in both developed and developing countries and plays a particularly important role in developing countries, where the costs of mobile data services are higher relative to per capita incomes.

In the last two years, however, zero rating has become a flashpoint in the net neutrality debate. At issue is whether operators and their customers should have the freedom to create contracts for mobile broadband service based on their preferences and constraints or whether mobile Internet service must be sold in a so-called “neutral” fashion where the only differentiating parameters are speed and megabytes. As the Internet increasingly transitions to mobile platforms–with the likelihood that the next two thirds of the world who have yet to come online will do so via mobile phones–who and how to provision mobile bandwidth is an important, complex issue.

To understand the issue more closely and assess whether there is harm to consumers and innovation, Roslyn Layton and Silvia Monica Elaluf-Calderwood studied zero rating in several countries that have banned some forms of the practice. In this special presentation, they will present the findings of their recent paper which examines the arguments for and against zero rating and the charges that zero rating hurts competition and consumers.

Join FHI 360’s mSTAR project for a presentation and discussion about zero-rating and what it means for bridging the digital divide in the developing world.