new_verizon_logoSponsored data, for those unfamiliar, is where companies can pay ISPs/carriers for data so that it does not count towards the customer’s data allowance. For example if a company wanted you to watch its video ads, the carrier/ISP will stream those videos without it eating your data, effectively allowing that company to sponsor the data for its video.

AT&T had previously announced its sponsored data program last year and now it looks like Verizon will be following in its footsteps. The carrier has recently announced that in the coming days, they will begin testing out their program. “The capabilities we’ve built allow us to break down any byte that is carried across our network and have all or a portion of that sponsored.”

This is according to Verizon’s executive VP Marni Walden during an interview this week. Walden also adds that they expect that in Q1 2016 they will be rolling out the program on a larger scale. “We’ll be out in a larger commercial way in the first quarter of 2016.” Assuming they do that, they will have beaten AT&T to the punch as the carrier is still testing out their program on a fairly limited basis.

That being said, the idea of sponsored data is not without criticism. Some believe that this could eventually lead to carriers prioritizing data paid for by companies, which in turn would violate net neutrality. Last year the FCC stated that they would be keeping an eye on AT&T’s efforts and we wouldn’t be surprised if they had their eyes trained onto Verizon now as well.

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