In an interesting move, AT&T plans to allow developers to pay for users’ data, when users are using the developer’s app, reports the WSJ. AT&T’s network and technology head John Donovan told the WSJ in an interview at MWC 2012 that the service will be similar to a toll-free 1-800 number.

The move will surely be interesting, letting a user use an app without any data being charged to them whatsoever. Donovan says AT&T hopes to roll out the new service within the next year…

“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”

Developers would pay for their users’ data, possibly with hopes that users will make in-app purchases without worrying about how much data they’re consuming. What, you don’t think developers will just try to be nice — do you?

This type of system obviously won’t be for companies with smaller apps, but for larger companies whose apps consume a lot of data. Spotify, for example, could pay for its users’ data in hopes of keeping them using the app or to bring on prospective customers.

Donovan says this could be a new revenue stream created.  “Why don’t we go create new revenue streams that don’t exist today and find a way to split them”, Donovan told the WSJ.

I’m certainly all for taking data away from my monthly data cap, which currently sits at 3GB (me personally). AT&T’s current plans are 300mb, 3GB and 5GB, if you aren’t the roughly half of AT&T’s customer base that is still enrolled in the original unlimited data plan.

With more apps consuming more and more data, you can quickly reach your data cap if you don’t have access to Wi-Fi, a good portion of the day.

What do you think of this new plan by AT&T?


  • I still have unlimited data…. Soooo it doesn’t matter. But for those with capped data plans it sounds nice as long as they don’t have to pay for it in the long run. Probably another method to entice the subscribers with unlimited data to which to one of the tier plans.

    • how’s that throttling treatin’ ya?

      • You assume he’s being throttled because he’s still on unlimited? A little hasty presumption don’t you think?

      • LOL! I think it is.

      • What makes you think I’ve been throttled? But to answer you question, I wouldn’t know. I have never been throttled.

      • Jake, nowhere in that post does it say an inordinate amount of users are being throttled. It says wrong users are being throttled, so my comment still stands. You are assuming all AT&T customers with unlimited plans are being throttled. Doesn’t make sense.

  • interesting move…..

  • Very interesting, you say they plan to allow – so this is voluntary? Surely for a freelance developer this could prove to be costly?

    • Anonymous

      Maybe, but in truth you are building in the cost of the data in to your selling price – so as usual the end user always pays!

      But, lets say as an Independent Developer you develop a game to sell, one of the selling points would be that you cover their Internet Data for maybe a month, or maybe AT&T will let you give them a “credit” of 10Mgb or 100Mgb toward their data. I’m sure AT&T will explore all the options.

      Also, at the beginning, I feel it will probably be a simple plan which is geared more for the “big boys”, but later on, with more carriers edging in to compete, you will see better more robust offerings, especially for the Independent developers.

  • Anonymous

    I think we have just witnessed the future…..

    This could even be done directly in the carriers own personal App Stores – taking revenue away from Apple and Android App Stores!

    I love it, it will offer competition and innovation to the current “status-quo” I believe we all will win! 🙂

    • Interesting thought, I didn’t think of it that way.

  • I am tired of the speed capping. At the end of my contact me and my iPhone are switching to Verizon. We are jumping ship!!!

    • Joe Muscarella, Jr.

      Good luck Verizon throttles too and so does Sprint.

      • Sprint’s 3G makes me feel like I’m already being throttled, lol. 25 Kbps down in a speed test. Ugh.

      • bs haha

    • Anonymous

      Likely will need to pick up a new hand buddy.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe get Netflix to pick up my bill for a few months to get back on my happy side.

  • In my country it has actually been somewhat of a debate as a major carrier feels certain data heavy apps like youtube should compensate for the data usage and maintenance costs. Then again they included whatsapp in their list. This was ofcourse just a desperate move to compensate the dwindeling use of overpriced textmessaging.

    I do like at&t’s approach to make it optional and actually make it appealing for the consumer and the developer instead of forcing it.