Mike Godwin on How Net Neutrality Affects Wikipedia

Is a "zero-rated" Wikipedia a blessing or a curse?



A big sub topic in the net-neutrality debate have been the "zero-rated" services, services whose data costs nothing at all and is exempt from the data usage count. Hungry competitors in the smartphone market here in the United States have offered services (such as music streaming) that, while providing digital content over the Internet, don't count against the "data cap" of a subscriber's plan. Phone companies argue that the freedom to make such offerings (which can be interpreted as discriminating in favor of one kind of internet service as against other kinds) allows them to be more competitive. Critics say "zero-rating" lets the providers pick winners over losers among internet content, and that giving providers this option allows them to distort the content market. 

What that debate mostly won't address is whether "zero-rated" Wikipedia is a blessing or a curse. Mike Godwin, director of innovation policy at The R Street Institute, argues that zero-rated Wikipedia is an unalloyed blessing, especially in the developing world where internet access is priced expensively by the byte.