The Telecommunications Law Resource Center is the most comprehensive reference and news platform for communications law, covering broadcasting, cable, broadband, telephony and wireless;...
Jan. 6 --AT&T Inc. will permit online content providers to pay to deliver their mobile apps and traffic to consumers' mobile phones and tablets without increasing users' monthly data usage, the company announced Jan. 6.
But the new business model was met with swift criticism from public interest groups who said such a plan would threaten open-Internet principles.
AT&T aims to encourage Web companies like Google Inc. to sponsor their data traffic so that the data aren't counted against AT&T customers' monthly data caps. AT&T's “sponsored data service” will deliver data at the same speed as non-sponsored content, the company said in its announcement timed on the eve of the annual International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The program is a “win-win for customers and businesses,” said Ralph de la Vega, president and chief executive officer of AT&T Mobility. “Customers just look for the sponsored data icon and they know the data related to that particular application or video is provided as a part of their monthly service.”
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) dismissed AT&T's sponsored data program as a threat to the open Internet, competition and consumer choice. “Embedded in programs of this type are serious implications for fairness and competition in the mobile marketplace,” Eshoo said in a Jan. 6 statement. “It's exactly why net neutrality rules came to exist in the first place and why these rules should apply equally to all forms of broadband Internet service.”
Consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge urged the Federal Communications Commission to step in and prevent telecommunications companies like AT&T from threatening the commission's net neutrality rules.
“It is time for the FCC to heed Public Knowledge's over two-year-old call to investigate data caps and gather basic information about their use,” said the group's acting co-president, Michael Weinberg. “It is impossible for the FCC to examine the impact of today's announcement on net neutrality until it develops an understanding of data caps.”
Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood also raised concerns.
“While sponsored data will be pitched as a way to save customers money, it's really just double charging,” Wood said. “The customer is still paying for the connection, and won't get a refund just because Facebook or YouTube or ESPN are also paying for some data usage now.”
The service does not technically run afoul of the FCC's net neutrality rules because it does not block or discriminate against online content. The FCC's Open Internet order also contains an exemption for wireless Internet service providers. An FCC spokesman did not comment.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently told the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology that the FCC's Open Internet order does not prohibit carriers and ISPs from entering into agreements with edge content providers to reach their subscribers.
“But there is a clear responsibility for the commission to make sure that what takes place does not interfere with Internet access, is not anticompetitive, does not offer preferential treatment, and we will enforce that,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bryce Baschuk in Las Vegas at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Rothman at firstname.lastname@example.org
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)