T-Mobile’s offer of free data penalizes all other games and provides unnecessary advantages.
Pokemon Go Zero Rating:
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It’s difficult at the best of times for the average person to care about net neutrality and even more so about zero rating, which is when internet providers exempt certain internet applications from data caps.
Fortunately, Pokemon Go – the mobile game sensation that’s sweeping the world – has produced perhaps the best case yet as to why people should care.
In the United States, T-Mobile is offering to exempt Pokemon Go from its data caps for a year. That goes with some of its other zero rating offers, including the exemption of a number of video and music streaming services.
That’s great, right? Who wouldn’t want to play as much Pokemon Go as they want, without worrying about using up their monthly data allotment?
That’s certainly how wireless carriers are selling zero rating – as a boon to consumers.
But it doesn’t take much effort to see the downside. What about all the other games out there? Why should those continue to count against data caps? In the case of T-Mobile, which is happily exempting all kinds of services, why are there caps in the first place?
Suppose you’re a person who plays a lot of mobile games on your phone, some of which use up data. You’ve tried Pokemon Go and decided it isn’t for you. Suddenly, it isn’t a case of Pokemon Go players getting a bonus – it’s a case of you getting penalized for your preferences.
Why does T-Mobile get to choose which games cost you data?
It’s worse for the creators. While the people at Niantic, the company behind Pokemon Go, are probably happy that T-Mobile has voluntarily given their product a boost, there are likely many other game developers now quietly grumbling about why their games aren’t exempted from caps.
It’s an unfair advantage that Pokemon Go doesn’t need, considering its runaway popularity. And, as Wired notes, the game doesn’t use that much data anyway.
By offering “free” data, T-Mobile is underlining the big problem with zero rating. It’s a bonus for the chosen few – often the big and successful who don’t need it – but a penalty for everyone else.