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AT&T Working to Allow App Developers to Pay Users’ Data Fees

AT&T Working to Allow App Developers to Pay Users’ Data Fees

AT&T’s mobile data plans are limited, to say the least, with many consumers struggling to keep their data usage below their monthly limit. AT&T is now apparently planning to move some of that burden away from users by allowing app developers the ability to pay for customers’ data usage.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

AT&T Inc. is preparing a service that would let content providers and developers of mobile applications pay the wireless carrier for the mobile data its customers use, the carrier’s network and technology head John Donovan said in an interview Monday.

Mr. Donovan likened the service to toll-free calling for the mobile-broadband world. The move comes as carriers are hunting for new ways to make money on the rising data traffic on their networks, while mindful of limits on what consumers are willing to spend. 

Donovan compared the service to toll-free telephone numbers, giving purchasers of apps a way to use those apps without it counting against their monthly data usage. AT&T has seen customer data usage skyrocket in recent years to to the immense popularity of smartphones, and is now actively attempting to limit data usage with tiered data plans, and capping the speeds of those who are grandfathered into unlimited data plans.

This may actually be a wise move – developers would likely be able to purchase data in bulk at cheaper rates, and consumers would have to worry less about how much data they are actually using on their devices.

To me, however, it raises an interesting question: If AT&T’s efforts to limit the data usage of their customers are not due to network congestion, but instead some other reason (such as concern for how much customers are willing to pay for their data), then how on earth does AT&T justify the ridiculous caps they’ve been imposing on unlimited data plan users?

It appears to me that this is no more than a way for AT&T to make money from app developers, and isn’t based in concern for their customers nearly as much as they might like you to think…

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  1. Landon says:

    Glenn, I think you are absolutely right. It’s all about profits, not congestion.

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