We consider internet service providers’ incentives to zero-rate, i.e. to not count the usage of certain services towards data allowances, in the absence of payments from content providers. We show that zero-rating is adopted if and only if it strongly increases subscriptions. For this it is necessary that participation (as opposed to usage) network effects are strong enough and if zero-rating offers raise expectations about other subscribers’ usage. Zero-rating then also maximizes total welfare.
- Net neutrality
- Network effects