Carrier Evolution

Some now are suggesting that the model of “toll-free” calling (800 numbers) could offer service providers a way to “monetize” some video services. In addition to the advantages for Internet access providers, who face a growing gap between the cost of providing service and the revenue earned from providing service, such an approach could have easily-understood value for consumers.

Some content providers will not like the idea, but Comcast, for example, allows its Xfinity cable TV customers to use the Xfinity app to view some of the content they already buy as part of their cable subscriptions without applying such usage to Internet access usage.

Netflix, for example, sees a threat, as its “over the top” streaming service does “count against usage caps,” while Xfinity usage does not. But the toll-free precedent is interesting. In that scenario, a third party, namely the business or organization receiving the call, pays for the call.

Some say a similar retail charging method could work for video streaming, allowing service providers to earn revenue, users to get service, while creating a financial incentive for streaming video providers as well. It is a clear advantage to say “use our service as much as you want; it won’t count against your usage cap.”

To be sure, end users and service providers have the most to gain; content providers will wind up spending more for the privilege of exempting their services from usage caps. But that’s the same situation for use of toll-free calling.