AT&T is announcing a new move into who pays for your mobile bandwidth consumption. Called Sponsored Data, AT&T will allow companies to pay for the bandwidth of content that you may wish to view on your mobile device. Essentially, it is like the Toll Free numbers we all know. The idea here is to move the costs of streaming specific content over 4G connections to those originating the content.
Billed as a win-win for consumers and content providers the move does raise concerns with the net neutrality crowd as the suspicion is sponsored data might receive precedence over non sponsored data. AT&T apparently went to great lengths to mention that there will be no distinction in streaming quality between sponsored and non-sponsored data. AT&T says that consumers will see sponsored data usage on their monthly bills.
An example of how this might work would be if a movie studio wanted to push out a new trailer of an upcoming film they might choose to pay the freight for the bandwidth. Other uses could be available as well, including sponsored data for teleconferences. Consumers could benefit if they have small capped data plans and are constantly worried about going over their limit.
Now, if only we could get AT&T and other carriers to make ad makers who push auto-play video pay for that data, then we’d be on to something.