Are the policies and allowances made by mobile phone/data companies created with fairness and equality in mind?
In a world where we have a previously unheard of amount information of available right at our fingertips (usually just typing a question into the search bar renders a whole page of results) isn't it everyone's duty to ensure that the "little guys" of business are properly protected from the already over-abundant abuse of resources at the disposal of large corporations, especially when it comes to the free and global space we all share, contribute to, and count on: the internet? Professor Domain discusses "zero rate" data allowances along with the meaning behind their subsequent cost-coverage of mobile data usage, why they are not as helpful as they would seem, and what we can do about it to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to offer goods and services to the rest of the world!



So, what is a "zero rate" data allowance/policy?

A "zero rate" data policy, essentially aimed at educational purposes but also used as a way for companies to help build brand recognition and offer services, is where a mobile phone/data company charges no data usage for visiting and browsing certain websites, paid for by whichever company, person, or educational center that wishes to allow free use of and promotion for their website(s). Overall the concept is great, and provides an awesome chance for people to be able to offer educational resources, much needed advice or help, and even just a "data-charge free zone" for any kind of website, from local news to worldwide shopping. But that right there is where the problem arises, because companies with the largest pockets tend to seek out how they can dominate in these marketing niches, and usually they will have considerably more money to put into them than smaller businesses or most people who are building a personal site would be able to use. This goes far beyond the typical "value gained from advertisement" as well, since these "zero rate" zones can have a profound global effect, especially in certain areas with higher data charges or those without reliable data plans, and can easily shift a website's traffic flow through the roof because they will be one of few sites which are accessible in these areas due to their footing the mobile data bill for users browsing their sites, such as the rapid rise in African Twitter users when Twitter entered a zero-data agreement with phone companies in South Africa.
All in all that's great, isn't it? Allowing people who cannot afford or simply do not have access to benefit from resources provided by sites without data charges, helping people connect in places they typically cannot, and helping people get educational benefits they otherwise might not be able to reach. But is that the way it is being used? At first glance, and even a fourth or fifth, it would appear that it is primarily being implemented by large corporations as a means of garnering more customers and/or users, and that the other possibilities for such a wonderful concept are simply being avoided or purposely pushed to the wayside, not to mention the fact that these sites being available in these "rare or untapped" areas seem to be causing a rate of traffic increase that is both controversial and questionable, since it promotes users to go to sites which may not have any legitimate market dominance other than the fact that they have money to pay for potentially thousands of people's data usage simply for extra numbers in their advertising schemes.
A free market is just that, open and free, but there is certainly a distinct level of responsibility we all share in making certain we all are receiving the true and honest benefits of such a market, and a monopolized internet is about as opposite to the advantages of fair competition and price comparison as it can get. Look at it like this, if you could only access a single social media site, be it due to data restrictions or when your data runs out monthly, which one would you be more likely to use?

So what do we do about it, and how can we protect the future of the internet from monopolization?

Well, first and foremost is to express to these companies that you believe everyone has a right to share with the world, and that you as a customer demand they put an equivalent amount of money into assuring people have access to free educational resources and not just whatever trend or store that they want to rule. Secondly, it is important to be prepared to boycott even sites you use daily to stand up for what is right and honorable. Lastly, and perhaps most important, is to let other people know about policies we all need to adopt as fair market standards, such as offering as much charity as you do advertising, and to be constantly aware of which companies are attempting to monopolize a market and then to not support them. Remember, clothes from sweatshops still look normal but are soiled with the metaphorical blood of companies willing to do anything for a profit, and if you think I am being too dramatic maybe you should reflect on what lengths a company is willing to go to if it will buy mobile data by the cartload simply to stomp out any other competition in developing countries, almost like they don't mind taking blatant advantage of those people in developing countries by manipulating them with the allure of 'free' services while they are no doubt simply mining their statistical data and not even having enough local language moderators (see about facebook's responsibility in attempted genocide by lack of moderation) to prevent hate-speech and other atrocities from ensuing...
I dont like to leave things on a bad note, so let's remember to focus on the many positive possibilities from offering zero-rate data to educational centers around the globe so we can get out there and make a change!

Thank you all for joining me, I do hope you are well.

-Professor Domain

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