Verizon Launching “FreeBee” — Their Own Sponsored Data Program

Business / Mobile

Today Verizon announced their new sponsored data program coined FreeBee Data. According to Verizon FreeBee Data will help engagement with mobile content from businesses on their network. FreeBee Data from Verizon will act like a combination of T-Mobile’s music freedom and Binge On programs allowing for content providers to sponsor data that will not count against the Verizon customer’s data limit. It will also go a step further by allowing Verizon customers to also use specific apps or websites in addition to streaming music and video.

Verizon doesn’t seem to be going all in with content providers though and are giving them two options on how they will be able to sponsor their data. They have two models that providers can choose from. Starting today they can go with FreeBee Data 360 which allows some or all websites/apps to not count against the customer’s data. This will be billed to the content provider on a per gigabyte basis. The second model is a per click model allowing specific links to not count as data used. Verizon said that “for pay-per-click campaigns, the FreeBee Data icon (a “bee”) appears next to sponsored content to let Verizon Wireless subscribers know that, when they click on that content, they will not incur data charges.”


Verizon’s FreeBee logo

Colson Hillier, vice president, Consumer Products at Verizon said:

In today’s digital economy, FreeBee Data is a departure from the one size fits all approach to marketing. The opportunity to add value and utility to consumers’ everyday experiences will fundamentally transform how brands and businesses connect with their customers.

The FreeBee Data 360 program should be live today and is available to any content providers who which to pay for their data to be sponsored on Verizon’s network. The FreeBee Data per-click model will have a trial starting on January 25th. Verizon said they already have Hearst Magazine, AOL, and GAMEDAY on board for testing out the per-click version of their sponsored data.

Hillier also continued by saying:

By building capabilities to help brands promote their content and applications, our new FreeBee Data service is a powerful tool designed to help marketers take an active part in consumers’ mobile lives. There’s never too much of a good thing when it comes to engaging customers with great content. We look forward to providing our Verizon Wireless subscribers with more options to access amazing content without data charges, just by being one of our valued customers.

This will, no doubt, be a bonus for a lot of mobile users but still doesn’t sit well with me. I know that T-Mobile has been given a green light to do it and that there is nothing wrong with the practice but it feels like a slippery slope to me. I don’t want to see this turn into sponsored 4G content where non-sponsored content will be 3G. I feel like even with sponsored content it is taking away from a free and open Internet in some ways by allowing companies to pay for certain customers. If you’re on a strict budget and want to stream music and see that, for example, Pandora doesn’t cost you extra to stream whereas Rdio, Spotify, Google Music, and others do, you would probably go with the free option. This is eliminating the competition unfairly in my opinion just because Pandora — in this fictional example — decided to pay extra to your carrier so they won’t charge you. That doesn’t feel free, fair, or open to me. I miss the days of unlimited data but at least I am only paying for what data I use now.

What do you think about Verizon’s FreeBee sponsored data? Are you excited seeing other carriers start to allow data to be sponsored to not count against the data you pay for or do you feel like it isn’t a good practice to be starting? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter.

  Source: Verizon
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