Verizon and AT&T are pushing back on complaints from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about their zero-rating plans, which allow the companies to offer specific content to customers without counting toward their data plans, The Verge reports.
The FCC says zero-rating plans threaten net neutrality and hurt competition because they favor some data over others and "therefore create an uneven playing field for businesses," the FCC wrote.
But in its response, AT&T says zero-rating plans are simply a perk for its customers, and are not anti-competition. Verizon also defended its zero-rating program, FreeBee. "FreeBee data provides tangible benefits to consumers by increasing the amount of what they can do and watch online, at no cost to them," Verizon wrote.
AT&T points out that the arguments against zero-rating plans may not matter soon, as the Trump administration will soon appoint a new FCC leader. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced last week he will step down on January 20, 2017, the day of the inauguration.
Republicans have already hinted at plans to make significant changes once they are in control at the FCC, including potentially repealing net neutrality rules the Obama administration passed in 2015. Net neutrality rules prevent internet providers from charging websites like Netflix and Facebook a fee to access users at faster speeds. Dissolving net neutrality rules would be a benefit to internet providers, but a setback for companies that stream or transfer large amounts of content.
Now, the FCC is poised for change and is set to fall under a Republican majority. On top of that, two of Trump's advisors are leading net neutrality opponents who are part of his transition team to help oversee his telecom policy agenda.