AT&T Considers Passing Mobile Traffic Bucks To Mobile Providers
February 28, 2012 at 11:25 AM (PT)
AT&T INC. is considering a way to let mobile service providers pay for the cost of the data traffic from streaming movies and smartphone applications, the WALL STREET JOURNAL reports. An AT&T executive likened the scenario as toll-free calling for the mobile-broadband world.
"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," JOHN DONOVAN, who oversees AT&T's network and technology, told the WSJ at the MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS. "What they're saying is, why don't we go create new revenue streams that don't exist today and find a way to split them ... "It'd be like freight included."
AT&T's proposition has already met some resistance from consumer advocates who believe that it could stifle competition and shift the playing field toward well-heeled app developers and content providers that have the financial capacity to subsidize mobile customers' data use.
Consumer group PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE Legal Dir. HAROLD FELD noted, "You have to raise all this additional capital to reach the customer or alternatively you have to compete with well-established players who can afford to pay."
Net neutrality proponents are also dissenters because they believe telecommunications companies shouldn't be allowed to give special treatment to some service providers, because doing so would stifle the ability of web designers and interests to create the next FACEBOOK.
The FCC has yet to comment on the proposal.