With the mantras, “FCC, Please Keep Our Data Free” and “Free Data is the Only Way For Me”, #MobileLikeMe campaign supporters gathered outside of the Federal Communications Commission last Thursday to implore the FCC to continue its support of free or “sponsored” data plans.
Free or ‘sponsored’ data plans are the innovative offerings by wireless companies that give consumers “free” content as part of their existing wireless data plans. With free data plans consumers are able to explore websites, download apps or stream movies and music without it counting against their data. Which means consumers can access the internet for health, education and career related browsing and apps without fear of running over their existing data plans.
With over 40,000 petition signatures in hand from fellow supporters, the group rallied to highlight the importance of these options to smartphone-dependent Americans whose main point of access to the Internet is via mobile technology. There is an estimated 10% of Americans who have smart phones, but cannot afford broadband at home, and so rely on their smartphones to be a part of our digital world.
#MobileLikeMe Executive Director Isaac Mance stated,
“Today, and every day, our focus is on creating the kind of environment where the promise of mobile tech can be realized by all people. By continuing to support experimentation with free data plans, the FCC is keeping consumers first and taking active steps to close the digital divide.”
Since the Mobile Like Me campaign launch earlier this summer the group has been working to provide insights and education around the importance of free data and mobile technology as the answer to closing the digital divide. Spokesperson for the group, actor Hill Harper added,
“We all use or are touched by mobile technologies in some way in our daily lives. The policies that undergird this environment must be forward looking. We can’t constrain the technology of tomorrow with the rules of yesterday. The FCC’s decision, thus far, to keep free data free is a promising sign about how this space can develop.”
Even as the rally went on outside of the FCC, #MobileLikeMe engaged with online supporters as well – many tweeting and retweeting its message in support of free data and other issues around mobile technology that should be addressed if we are to truly close the digital divide and bring everyone online.
Earlier this year when the FCC passed the Net Neutrality Order, they decided not to ban free data offerings and instead decided to evaluate these new offerings on a case by case basis. #MobileLikeMe is will continue to implore the FCC to continue looking at ‘sponsored’ data in this way with an eye toward digital equity for all.