AT&T’s “Sponsored Data” program raises eyebrows at the FCC

Last week, we talked to you about the idea of companies subsidizing your smartphone’s wireless connection, inspired by news that T-Mobile and Facebook were making the latter’s apps free-to-use for customers who otherwise lacked data service on their accounts. This week, however, AT&T took things one step further and announced a formal “Sponsored Data” program, inviting companies form all over to make their apps more attractive to AT&T users by offering to pay themselves for the data consumed, rather than putting that cost on the user. For instance, maybe Hulu could sponsor Hulu Plus data, so users could stream shows without killing their data allotments. However, this new attention may instead serve to derail such schemes, as the FCC starts getting ready to intervene.

While it’s not taking action just yet, the FCC is keeping a close eye on AT&T as it gets started with this initiative, and Chairman Tom Wheeler explains that the agency won’t hesitate to get involved if need be, saying “make no mistake, we’re ready to intervene.”

Still, other voices at the FCC are far less concerned with the basic tenets of net neutrality, and Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai has criticized Wheeler for what he frames as an attack on a whole business model, rather than on specific wrongful actions.

It remains to be seen how this will all play out, but AT&T may want to tread lightly.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, AT&T
Via: BGR

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About The Author
Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bits Read more about Stephen Schenck!