AT&T working to allow app developers to pay for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch users’ data use

“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,” Anton Troianovski reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“Mr. Donovan likened the service to toll-free calling for the mobile-broadband world,” Troianovski reports. “‘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,’ Mr. Donovan said on the sidelines of a mobile-industry conference here.”

Troianovski reports, “Mr. Donovan said there was interest from companies who could use the feature to drum up new business from customers wary of using data-heavy services like mobile video.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The unfettered market always finds a way.

[Attribution: AppleInsider. Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

Related articles:
The Spectrum Crunch: Sorry, America, your wireless airwaves are full – February 21, 2012
AT&T limits ‘unlimited’ data customers – February 15, 2012

66 Comments

    1. Do you REALLY want more ads on YouTube? Someone’s gonna have to pay in the end.

      The carriers can now get companies like YouTube to pay for the bandwidth that MAY NOT use. If you have a 3GB plan and you use 1GB on YouTube and 1GB on all your other stuff. AT&T has charged you for 3GB and YouTube for an additional 1GB.

      The only advantage of this plan is that they won’t be charged for data at anywhere near the same rates as we are… so maybe app prices won’t go up considerably.

    1. This is a COMPLETE LACK OF LEADERSHIP and VISION at ATT.
      This is “How can we nickel and dime our Customers to Death?”
      We can hide the cost THIS WAY!
      WHY, are you NOT trying to make ATT the Best Telecommunications Company Possible? NO Leaders, just Bean Counters. Third Rate at best.
      Customers don’t pick ATT for the Quality and the Customer Service. They go with it because they have to. What a joke.

      Be ashamed. That’s all you have.

    2. Yeah, a great idea for them to double-dip, to charge both you AND somebody else for the data. The ‘somebody else’ can at reasonably accurately determine how much data they send/received, but you can’t really do the same [determine how much data you should be charged for vs somebody else].

    3. before you praise this plan, think about how AT&T will abuse their power.

      “If you don’t pay us, your apps are not going to be accessible over the cellular network.”

      This would CRIPPLE some great free apps out there!!! 🙁 🙁

    1. You don’t understand. It’s like making a toll-free call: the app developer pays for the data usage. So when you’re calling to order your ShamWOW!, you don’t pay the long distance fees, ShamWOW! does, but it’s a cost of their doing business.

      This wouldn’t work for YouTube, which doesn’t really get much from you besides ad sales. But perhaps Lexus would have a media-intensive app which it could change data with frequently, from videos, to 360 cockpit views, etc., and it could pay for the data to lure you to view its products as much as you like.

      1. But is this really a concern for people?

        Data usage only stops me from using apps when I’m overseas. And no developer will want to off-set that.

        No. This is a way to let telcos ramp up data prices, or lower caps — forcing us to think carefully about what we’re using, and forcing the Googles and Apples of the world to pay. Just like they tried before (sparking the whole Net Neutrality issue).

        1. i agree with REALLY — the example here is 1-800 numbers – paid by the developers at the cost to them for the Business.

          Smaller app developers just won’t go this way – things will start coming back to you user in the end… PRICE of APP or something.

          I don’t like it.

    2. Actually, this makes an app I’ve been pondering a bit more interesting. I deal with high bandwidth weather and satellite data (beyond temps, pressures, precip, etc.) and have been trying to figure out how to deliver the amount of data I want without saturating someone’s monthly 3G allotment. I haven’t thought about how I could make this payment model work, but it sounds like another option to look into.

  1. “Allow”???

    This is nothing more than the insulting double-dipping that broadband operators have been trying to inflict upon popular websites.

    http://parislemon.com/post/18384988601/at-ts-new-troll-toll

    It’s an idea we’re sure AT&T will pitch as a cost-saving endeavor for consumers, but given this is AT&T, you’d be naive to think cost savings will be in the equation. You’ll still pay the same data rates, content companies will now just pay a fee to obtain preferred “reduced cap impact” status, then pass the higher development costs on to you. It’s a ridiculous and dangerous idea, and the fallout will likely be similar to AT&T’s “free ride” comments. AT&T executives either don’t care how bad these ideas make them look, or don’t realize it thanks to too many isolated meetings at headquarters packed with telco-think yes men.

    This is why net neutrality rules are needed!!!!

    1. Spade, you don’t get it at all. This is basically AT&T saying that the data you use for this developer’s app would not count against your data plan, but would be passed on to the developer, who would pay for it under whatever plan they have with AT&T. So you could use a data-intensive app without using your monthly data allotment.

      1. And you think the developer/ content provider won’t bundle the data costs with their fees? So the consumer pays, no matter how many twists the path to his wallet take. Be assured ATT will obtain the net gain in this scheme.

        1. There’s no doubt that the AT&T will obtain “the net gain” in the scheme.

          However, as a consumer, you WILL have the ability to use a data-intensive application that does NOT gobble up your capped data plan. How much you’d be willing to pay for such an app, and how a developer of such an app could build a model that would generate enough revenue so that he can pay AT&T for the bandwidth is another question, but it will just give another option to the equation.

          Bottom line is this: AT&T will charge their customers for the wireless data spectrum it offers to consumers (could you believe they want money for the service they provide???). Right now, they are charging their subscribers directly. With this other model, there is an option to charge them via the app developer (developer pays for bandwidth and recovers that cost through app price, in-app purchases, in-app advertising or all of the above, and consumer pays the developer, either in cash, or in eyeballs/click-throughs on ads).

          Oh, and thethirdshoe, exactly HOW is Bizlaw trolling here???

    1. It’s not double dipping, it’s the developer paying for data (under whatever data plan they have with AT&T, BTW) rather than the bytes you use on their app counting against your monthly data plan.

    1. Why? Most developers won’t do this (it’s not mandatory, just an option) because it doesn’t fit for their app. This is for apps which would be created to draw people in to buy your product/service.

      For example, Dropbox could market that using its service won’t eat up your monthly data allotment by paying for the data transfers you make. Or an online game developer could charge a monthly fee (World of Warcraft, etc.) but market that you won’t use up your data minutes playing their game. Then the developer has a huge data plan with AT&T, so its rates are very low (just like an 800 number).

      Small developers likely don’t have an 800 number, either. Same thing. They don’t have to do it if they don’t want to, and for most it won’t fit with their business plan anyway.

      1. Ok just as an example,

        You are on a tiered data plan, going over your cap costs you more money per month.

        Let’s say Microsoft has an app that will let you stream bandwidth free video for $10 a month. Microsoft will foot the bandwidth bill for its millions of viewers, they can afford it.

        Then let’s say there’s Netflix and they also charge $10 a month but they can’t afford to support their viewers data habits so using their app will cost you overages with AT&T. This costs you more money for the same amount of viewing you could get bandwidth free if you used microsofts app.

        Which would you choose?
        Did you really have a choice?

    1. No.

      There are no more unlimited plans beyond those that are grandfathered in. Therefore you have X amount of data each month. Period. Go beyond it and you pay for it. Not with this new plan that AT&T is working on.

      Data intensive apps would die off without this sort of innovative thinking. This is a good thing.

      Not everything that corporations do is “evil.”

      1. No, not everything corporations do is evil; and I didn’t say that. But I know you’re fond of hyperbole.

        A small developer that makes a free app that streams weather radar, flight radar, or aggregates news, etc., will get locked out. How will AT&T set developer rates? By potential usage? By potential sales? A percentage of their sales? This sounds a lot like the Motorola “we want 2.5%” when looking at it from that perspective: AT&T owns the required pipe, Motorola owns the required IP.

        Also, how will AT&T determine who gets access on their network to the bits from those apps? They’ll either have to keep a database of which of their customers purchased the app and selectively block based on assigned IP or completely block the app from their network for everyone. Both of these actions are steps toward the model of the non-neutral net that they want: the provider pays AT&T for access to customers, and the customers also pay for access to the provider. This model leads to differentiating into two internets: first class and economy. Want some peanuts with your soda? That’ll be $5, please.

      1. Someone is going to pay for data used. Either consumers or content providers. This is a method for content providers who want to have media/content intensive apps but are worried that consumers won’t use the app because the data usage rate is very high to entice consumers to use their app by marketing it as “use our app and keep your monthly GBs!”.

    2. Just another way to sell data plans. If consumers don’t want to pay for more data, but want to use more data, then why not see if someone else will pay for the data the consumer uses to access that developer’s app/content?

  2. After many years of reading, it’s obvious to me that the writer of the MacDailyNews Take is a genius. This particular elegantly precise Take is pure genius.

    Not only is it immediately quotable (it could easily be at home on any of the “famous quotes” websites), but it works on multiple levels and makes whatever “sense” widely varied viewpoints want it to make.

    Is it pro-free market (laissez-faire) or it is sarcastic and therefore pro-government regulation, or it is a mixture, something in-between, or something else entirely?

    1. It’s a pro-free market comment. Because the government is not regulating/mandating that data is paid for by X or Y, the market can be creative and find ways to sell data in ways that people will buy it.

      AT&T’s proposal is just like 800 numbers. Think of how many times (at least before mobile phones proliferated so much) you called a company because it was an 800 number (thus, free call) rather than call a long-distance number.

      Before mobile phones, Vonage, etc., long-distance phone charges were a big deal. That’s one of the ways MCI and Sprint got started, was by offering significantly cheaper long distance phone call rates. Companies had 800 numbers so that people could and would call without worrying about a big phone bill.

      Remember those commercials about people calling each other and talking super fast so that their calls would be very short? Or did you ever make a collect call and when the operator got ahold of the person you were calling, you said very fast “Joe send me $50!” and hung up, so Joe would decline to accept the charges (now I’m dating myself)?

      This data plan is the same thing. Consumers won’t use up their data accessing a data-intensive app (which are becoming more and more popular), but AT&T can still provide the data and get paid for it.

        1. You just don’t get it, do you?

          *You* have an Unlimited Plan. Many people don’t. You were grandfathered in. Most customers, specifically new customers, aren’t. This doesn’t really benefit you, but it can apply to many of AT&T’s customers.

          You accuse anyone who doesn’t agree within you of being a troll. Consider these:

          Being too single-minded to realize that others might have a valid disagreement with your viewpoint = Troll

          Posting the same comment 8 different times in an attempt to make your near-sighted point = Troll

          1. Actually a “Large” number of people DO have the Unlimited Plan.
            Saying ATT is wanting to double dip IS True.

            “You accuse anyone who doesn’t agree within you of being a troll.”
            No. When I looked at the conversion thread an saw that this one person kept saying the same thing Over and Over and Over. I only point out how the guy was beating a dead horse.

            It does look like they are getting paid by the number of posts. 😉

  3. This could have a nice side benefit for those who have their data plans throttled: If the apps their using pay for their data (say, Pandora), then you shouldn’t bump up against any data cap where you would be throttled down.

    1. +100.

      Since they got tired of leeching us, they turn to developers?!! this could potentially end some great free apps out there!!!

      All AT&T has to do is say “Oh, well, if you don’t pay us, your app will be Wifi Only…”

      Great. Thanks a lot. I swear, I hope a giant meteor comes down from the sky to end AT&T. Ridiculous hit whores who charge an arm and leg for subpar service, and f*ck over their customers and are now preparing to f*ck the developers!

      /End rant.

  4. The clueless idiots here cheering for this idea probably also fell for the Oil companies idea…

    Hey, why not have the customers pump their own gas, that way we don’t have to pay people to do it.

    Boss, you really think people gonna be dumb enough to fall for this?

    Yeah, we’ll just tell em the gas is gonna be cheaper… Hahah these dumb ass morons… em customers… believe anything we say.

    Boss, you are a genius.

  5. I don’t really need an unlimited data plan. But I also don’t need a plan that specifies an inadequate number of GB with outrageous overage fees built in.

    Seriously, why do we have to buy “levels” of data, anyway. It just screws the consumer because we lose what we don’t use, but we face big penalties if we go over. The result in that we have to hedge our bets by choosing the bigger plan. Then you get to buy *another* plan for your other device (e.g., iPad) and do it all over again.

    Why not something similar to an electrical utility bill where you pay an “access fee” of $9.95 per month and then 0.5 cents per MB ($5 per GB) with the ability to tie multiple devices to a single account? If you use a lot, you pay a lot. If you use a little, you pay the monthly access fee plus a little. But you only pay for what you use, and you would not have to worry about overages or throttling. As an option, if the network needed to throttle bandwidth because of high demand, the price per GB would go down because the utility of the service would drop.

    This approach would work a lot better than the pipe dream of “unlimited” plans in a very resource limited world.

  6. Sounds like a good idea to me. Not every one had or could afford long distance. The 800 number system in the US, allowed people to make long distance calls paid for by the person, company, or organization that leased the number.

    Something like this would allow Apple to cover the cost of over-the-air updates to mobile devices when delivered via the mobile cell network. There are also OS services that could be paid for by Apple, including Siri, Push notifications, iCloud syncing, etc. True, some of these aren’t huge bandwidth hogs, but it all adds up, if all you have is a 200MB data plan.

    1. “Not every one had or could afford long distance.”
      Yes, I was a good thing for people in 1967. OVER 40 years ago!

      Why are you defending a greedy Corporation? The ONLY reason ATT wants this is to make more money. How about improving Customer Service first???

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