Normally when you want to surf the web, stream videos, or generally use the internet on an AT&T phone or tablet, it eats into your monthly data allotment. But AT&T has a new way to let you access online content without hitting your data cap: Sponsored Data.

It’s basically like a 1-800 number for the mobile web. When you access data from a participating service, AT&T will bill the provider instead of you.


For example, you might be able to view movie or game trailers, go to a mobile shopping site, or try out a new app, site, or service while the sponsoring company pays for your internet use.

AT&T says the service will be available for post-paid and session-paid customers with an active AT&T 4G HSPA+ and LTE plan for smartphones, tablets, or mobile hotspots.

On the one hand, this could all help you stretch your mobile data further. On the other hand, it’s not like you’re getting something for nothing — for the most part it’s likely that the only free content you’re going to get are from services that are essentially offering ads or promotions in hopes of getting you to spend more money.



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7 replies on “AT&T “Sponsored Data” is like 1-800 calling for the mobile internet”

  1. Although I think this is a bunch of CRAP just like AT&T is. Sprint still has an Unlimited plan without throttling. NO I do not work for Sprint!

  2. While I doubt this will ggetany real use I think it would be proper for this to be applied for online shopping. Maybe you pay for the browsing but all cart and checkout transactions should be paid for by the seller. Whether amazon or the local movie place selling you the etickets.

  3. This is such BS.
    How about kill the gimmicks and treat consumers fairly by simply providing an affordable data connection that consumers can do what they want with?
    Instead they forward crap like this that implies that people need help with data when the carriers are the ones creating the illusion of a deficit by metering out data in the first place.

    1. Spoken like somebody who has no clue about mobile data economics. It really is a finite resource that is costing the carriers billions a year to try to keep up with to a point where customers are only angry instead of cancelling service. And there IS an upper limit to mobile data, the laws of physics have already been bent pretty hard but they probably can’t be abused forever. And the bending itself is expensive to research, develop and deploy. Somebody is going to pay.

      Metering is the only sensible way to encourage customers to care enough to act responsibly… instead of the insane video streaming and video conferencing shown in pretty much every advert for a cell carrier.

      1. Do you think the current US prices for data is justified? Data is often cheaper in non-US countries. Why is that?

        1. Jason, you are spot on. Although I suspect that the reasons
          for the US prices being so high are

          – the US doesn’t regulate the pricing of mobile broadand, which
          I suspect other countries might. Eventually, mobile broadband
          will be viewed as a public utility, like water and electricity, crucial
          to economic vibrancy, and regulation could be instituted. (Another
          industry that is rife for increased regulation is cable TV service,
          whose price increases and channel bundling are seen by many as
          outrageous.) A lifeline service of a few hundred megabytes a month
          could be made available.

          – there is a carrier oligopoly, and from Economics 101, oligopolies
          are never good for the public In this case, the mobile broadband carriers
          are making what some consider excess profits Municipal WiFi was seen
          as a possible alternative, but many forces opposed it. WiMax was also seen
          as a cellular broadband killer, with backing by Intel, Google, and others, but its technical progress came too slowly, and was crushed by the LTE juggernaut. LTE itself has helped reinforce the carrier oligopoly as there are many flavors of LTE incompatible with each other.

          – John Morris is right in that there is a multi-billion dollar barrier to new
          industry entrants in the amount needed for infrastructure. However, as I mention above, public utility companies spend billions on providing water and
          electricity, which are regulated to provide But technology can come up
          with solutions like mesh networking, peer-to-peer networks, solar powered and inexpensive access points

          – Many countries with lower prices are geographically a lot smaller than the US. Lower US prices might be possible if customers accepted a very restricted service area, as in the old days of cellular phone service. For a fair comparison, you really have to look at countries as geographically large as the US (the European Union is still a collection of individual countries in this case).

  4. What are the chances of one the services being a video streaming one? Limited data is the number one reason I don’t sign up for video streaming services. I, to my surprise, watch a lot of videos on my phablet.

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