Washington, DC (June 24, 2016): Today, the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) launched an online and nationwide campaign to preserve zero rating and free data practices for consumers, especially for those who are economically disadvantaged. The campaign is designed to engage and inform the public on the zero rating debate, and to provide a conduit for those who are impacted most by free data plans to have their voices heard in the national discussion.
Zero rating, the practice by which mobile carriers offer data access to some websites and content at no charge to customer data plans, provides tremendous benefits to low-income consumers who can more effectively use their mobile data to access quality of life applications such as employment, healthcare, and educational content. In its online call to action, MMTC is asking consumers across the country to contact the Federal Communications Commission, urging the agency to keep their mobile data free, particularly in light of the increasing demand for robust audio and video streaming services.
MMTC started this campaign in March when it released a White Paper that examined the zero-rated plans offered by the four major mobile carriers and the impacts and benefits for consumers. In the White Paper, MMTC acknowledged that “zero-rating and other free data practices are poised to play key roles in helping to close the digital divide by addressing cost concerns and strengthening the value proposition offered to skeptical non-users, two key considerations for the millions of Americans who remain offline.”
The current call to action is targeted to mobile users who are currently benefitting from free data offerings and others who can realize its potential, particularly when rationing their data to access quality of life applications. MMTC’s campaign will span both the digital and offline arenas in an effort to mobilize consumers around this critical issue.
“Our ultimate goal for this campaign is to bring to the forefront the real concerns of low-income families who use mobile data as their primary means to get online,” stated MMTC’s President and CEO Kim Keenan. “We want these voices to be heard because they are not the digital elite who already have access and a prominent seat at the table in this discussion. The consumers who are benefitting from free data are the ones who are in a daily struggle to keep their mobile services activated. They deserve to have their voices heard.”
In light of the recent D.C. Circuit Court decision to uphold the bright line rules for an open Internet, MMTC also finds the “general conduct standard” as a reasonable and fair framework for evaluating this innovative practice on a case-by-case basis. As stated in the White Paper, free data is “a symptom of a hyper-innovative space, not an invasion of an Open Internet. The digital elite can afford to intellectualize the value of free data, but for communities of color it can mean an affordable digital connection to the future.”
To learn more about and join MMTC’s call to action, please click here.
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The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) is a non-partisan, national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving equal opportunity and civil rights in the mass media, telecommunications, and broadband industries, and closing the digital divide. MMTC is generally recognized as the nation’s leading advocate for minority advancement in communications.