AT&T may have found a solution to their ever growing problem of skyrocketing mobile data usage. At the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, Spain, AT&T revealed that it has a possible pay plan in the works make the providers of mobile services, pay for the cost of data usage associated with things like streaming movies and smart phone apps.
AT&T’s network and technology executive explained to the Wall Street Journal Ma Bell’s interest in exploring the service. “A feature that we are hoping to have out sometime next year is the equivelent of 800 numbers that would say, if you take this app, this app will come without any network usage.”
More carriers are going away from unlimited data plans to plans that charge more money for more data used. If AT&T started to use this plan, an app such as Spotify could pay more money to AT&T in exchange for it’s users experiencing no data usage when using the app. What if Facebook decides to pay but Twitter doesn’t? Twitter on an iPhone or Android phone would be seriously hurt, or it could create confusion with 2 different kind of apps for the same product: Premium and a basic with the premium version not using your data.
This in turn now has the internets all up in arms, re-igniting the net neutrality debate and its effect on mobile internet rules. Their biggest argument seems to be about small start ups being disenfranchised because they would need an immense amount of capital just to compete in the the high stakes world of app development. Because if the choice was get a free game from Zynga that uses no data, or pay $1.99 for a game from Ma and Pa that uses data, what is the average consumer going to do?