Vodafone has told BBC News that it will not offer free access to the BBC Bitesize educational materials as BT, EE and Plusnet did last week. The mobile carrier said that its technical team have assessed the possibility of zero-rating Bitesize but concluded that it's not possible to offer free access without giving users free access to the whole of the BBC website.
Explaining why it’s not possible for Vodafone to do, the firm’s general counsel and external affairs director Helen Lamprell said:
“[It] sounds simple enough to do in theory but there are a number of technical and legal challenges. For example, if an education-resource site hosts some of its content on another platform, such as YouTube, as is often the case, we would have to zero-rate the whole of YouTube.”
Lamprell also said that, by zero-rating Bitesize, it would give the site an advantage over other education websites and could go against the firm’s legal obligations to maintain net neutrality. While Ofcom is mandated with ensuring net neutrality, Vodafone probably would have been safe from ramifications given that the closing of schools is quite extraordinary. Instead of zero-rating Bitesize, Vodafone has offered 350,000 free SIM cards to disadvantaged children to get them online.
BT told BBC that zero-rating Bitesize alone is technically difficult and can be costly, however, it affirmed that it’s not impossible to do which contradicts what Vodafone has said today. EE will offer Bitesize for free by the end of the month and customers will not have to register to take advantage of the offer.
Source: BBC News