More telecoms let you watch video without dinging data caps

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BY TALI ARBEL

Cellphone and broadband providers are excluding some video from data caps, meaning consumers have more data available for other apps and services.

But that’s not necessarily good, according to advocates of net neutrality, the concept that Internet access providers shouldn’t discriminate against some Web traffic in favor of others. They say innovation could be curtailed if smaller video providers couldn’t afford to pay for an exemption.

The exemptions come as mobile video booms. But video eats up a lot of data. On a smartphone, an hour or two of video consumes about 1 gigabyte. AT&T and Verizon, the biggest wireless companies, have been phasing out unlimited plans, so customers pay more to watch more over cellular networks.

Even home Internet providers are testing data caps. About 13 percent of Comcast’s customers are in a market with caps, according to research firm MoffettNathanson. Comcast exempts its own video, but not video from rivals like Netflix. Critics say that could hurt competition, as consumers would be drawn to the service that’s exempt.

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