Fred Wilson, who is a champion of the open web (because that’s how his investments are aligned), argues that if “carrier subsidized mobile apps” becomes pervasive, the mobile ecosystem would become more similar to a television model, and that’s bad. In other words, we’d be back to a model that’s similar to the mobile carrier deck. Carriers like that, so if I’m a carrier, I’m pushing for these deals and trying to shift the ecosystem towards this model.
But what all of this zero rating activity is setting up is a mobile internet that looks a lot more like cable TV than our wide open Internet. Soon a startup will have to negotiate a zero rating plan before launching because mobile app customers will be trained to only use apps that are zero rated on their network.