How Will Sponsored Data Initiatives Impact Access to News?

Personal mobile devices are increasingly the primary way people both log in to social networks and check the news. This is particularly true in the developing world where in many places mobile networks are the only way to connect to the Internet. Yet, mobile data plans are often quite expensive and usually have data caps–after a customer has used all of their allotted data they must pay more to continue accessing content or face throttled download times. Furthermore, in the developing world many people own Internet-capable phones but do not have the money to pay for a data plan. For media companies that want their content to be accessible to the widest audience possible, these access costs diminish the chances that they will be able to reach their intended audiences. This is the reason that media companies, particularly social media that depend on audience engagement, have turned to sponsored data arrangements, also known as zero-rating.

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