Sponsored Data

Making Megabytes a form of currency

Android Central @ CES

At the AT&T Developer Summit today, AT&T senior executive John Donovan introduced everyone to the companies new Sponsored Data packages. Companies will be able to pay AT&T, so that when you use the AT&T network to see their content — whether it be video, inside an app, or a website — it doesn't count against your data cap.

The easy explanation is to think of things as a toll-free 800 number for the web. When you call a 1-800 number, it doesn't cost you anything. The other party is footing the bill. With AT&T Sponsored Data, a company could, for instance, put up a movie trailer you can watch on the AT&T network without the amount of data used counting against your monthly plan limits. AT&T says this fixes a major problem — people like to wait to use the web until they are on Wifi. When the data isn't being deducted from your monthly allotment, AT&T is banking on the idea that you'll use the network for content from these Sponsored Data partners.

On the surface, this sounds good for consumers. We like things that are good for consumers. The transmission rates are no different for Sponsored Data partners than they are for anything else, and the only difference is who is paying for the bandwidth. But this is a slippery slope, with the possibility of changing the way you use the web. This is something we, and policy makers in Washington, need to keep a close eye on.


Reader comments

AT&T introduces Sponsored Data plan for businesses


Or here's an idea, and I know it's a crazy one - let's just do away with data caps! Unlimited data? Wowza! Who'da thunk it!

A selling point for AT&T ad sales and more consumers will end up use the web for other things while at it. Double win for AT&T.

It's a good thing I have Sprint. With their unlimited plans and decent LTE service (just arrived in my area--- yes!), I need not worry about this crap.

First they ask them to pay for "free" data. Then they throttle everyone that does not pay them. Then they make a white list of sites you can go to.

This will be the death of the internet. If is only a matter of time. The slippery slope is already under them. Verizon will be next...

Ha, this is hilarious. This will crash and burn very quickly. I am glad I am not on AT&T with these brilliant ideas flying around in the board room.

So let me get this right. You want me to pay for my business bandwidth connection to run my servers. Then when my customers come to use them you want me to pay again for them using them on a data plan they are also paying for to get there in the first place? DO THESE RETARDS THINK WE'RE ALL STUPID?

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"AT&T says...people like to wait to use the web until they are on Wifi." I can't imagine waiting to use the web because of data limits. Frankly, it sounds ridiculous, and reminds me of 1990s when people rushed off cell phones to save minutes. Sad. And AT&T is charging top dollar, right?

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At&t comes up with a new way to spam our phones, as if all the bloatware wasn't enough. The sad thing is that it's only a matter of time before the other carriers start doing it too if At&t makes a profit.

Is there a petition to stop this? I would imagine this would violate some sort of net neutrality law. Regardless this can in no way be good for the Internet community. The elimination of unlimited data plans was the harbinger of things to come and AT&T has finally shown its hand in the continuation of bad Internet policy. This does not bode well for any of us.

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Terrible idea. AT&T are looking at their future as a dumb pipe and are scared. Prepare for many more terrible ideas until the big carrieriers realize their place.

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