AT&T Mobility said its new "Sponsored Data" toll-free data plans, which allow partners to subsidize customer data costs, do not violate the FCC's net neutrality rules. The carrier's statement came just a day after FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler indicated the commission will monitor the new plans and intervene if they develop into an anticompetitive practice or give preferential treatment.
LAS VEGAS--FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the commission will observe AT&T Mobility's new toll-free data plans, which allow partners to subsidize consumer data, to ensure that they are not anticompetitive.
LAS VEGAS--I think the biggest news so far to come out of the Consumer Electronics Show here is AT&T Mobility's announcement of "Sponsored Data," which will allow advertisers to cover the cost of data access to their services. At its core, AT&T's Sponsored Data service represents a welcome innovation from a carrier that too often plays catch up to its rivals.
Google joined with Indian operator Bharti Airtel to offer free access to certain Google-based services and Web search results in a unique teaming that highlights the possibilities for toll-free data plans.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said structuring the rules of the upcoming incentive auctions of 600 MHz broadcast TV spectrum to favor Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile US would be a "big gamble."
Fueling the fire surrounding the likelihood of toll-free data coming to the U.S. market soon, Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo told investors at a Barclays Global Technology, Media and Telecommunications conference today that content providers are starting to see the value in paying the wireless operator for the data consumed by their subscribers when they view their content via a mobile device.
AT&T is reportedly exploring what wireless customers think about the idea of having content providers foot the bill for some of the data those users consume.
Carriers are increasingly expressing enthusiasm for the concept of toll-free data plans, in which content providers and applications developers would pay carriers to carry their content, and, in most scenarios, such content would not count toward a subscriber's data cap.