Critics contend that zero rating (ZR) imperils network neutrality, while proponents defend ZR as an internet on-ramp for billions. Prevailing voices have thus reduced zero rating to a zero sum game. As a corrective, this paper argues that instead of siloing the issues of network neutrality and the digital divide, and their relationship to zero rating, these sets of concerns must be drawn into a nuanced debate with one another. To advance this approach, I analyse the multiple forms of ZR offered in four wireless markets – Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and South Africa - across two dimensions: political-economic and developmental. I make the resulting case that through granular contextualisation, we should recognise the complexity of factors related to network neutrality and digital inclusion in order to arrive at an informed appraisal of this pervasive, and divisive, form of mobile internet access.
zero-rating Network neutrality Digital inclusion Regulation