New AT&T Service To Make Precious Data More Plentiful

Posted by · February 27, 2012 1:10 pm

English: Photo of the AT&T Midtown Center in M...If you’re a relatively new smartphone user, you know what it’s like to be forced to ration your monthly data allotment. After the rollback of unlimited data plans by major mobile telecoms over the past year, smartphone users have become all too familiar with the process of making sure that they aren’t stuck paying the steep price of using more data than their respective monthly allowances provide.

Well, that may all change soon—at least for AT&T subscribers.

In a new report from The Wall Street Journal, the recently downtrodden telecom appears to have plans to reduce subscriber stress by allowing app developers to help bare data costs for using their products. That is, AT&T is planning to release a service that will let individual app developers and content providers to pay for the data needed to use their products, freeing up precious data and saving money for subscribers who have, until now, been conditioned to think twice before using their data.

“A feature that we’re hoping to have out sometime next year is the equivalent of 800 numbers that would say, if you take this app, this app will come without any network usage,” explained AT&T network and technology head John Donovan in a Monday interview. “It’d be like freight included.”

Obviously, developers see the current system of data caps as a major obstruction to successful engagement with smartphone users. If developers who require large amounts of bandwidth to deliver their content to consumers are allowed to cover the cost of the data it consumes, that will remove a major barrier, which currently discourages many users from accessing larger pieces of content, which, of course, equals fewer opportunities and lost revenue for app developers. In other words, the fact that at least some content providers are interested in covering data costs is indicative of the dividends that they anticipate reaping from such an investment.

Should such a “toll-free” model of data use catch on—and I think it will—pressure will instantly be applied to other major telecoms like Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint. Given the potential income opportunity that this new service model promises not only for app developers but the telecoms themselves, it’s difficult to find a compelling reason that these companies won’t follow suit in the not-too-distant future.

“Imagine if your Spotify habit didn’t eat up a chunk of your precious monthly [data] allotment,” suggested Billy Steele of Engadget. “Sounds pretty good, eh?”

Indeed it does; however, the ultimate test will be seeing how many developers elect to buy into AT&T’s plan. Personally, I don’t see how they’ll be able to resist.