Light Reading
One of the carrier's sponsored data providers, Syntonic Wireless, is opening up its content store for AT&T customers to use apps that don't count against their data caps.

More AT&T Toll-Free Data Apps Trickle Out

Sarah Reedy
7/10/2014
50%
50%

AT&T-sponsored data provider Syntonic Wireless opened its Sponsored Content Store for the carrier on Thursday, offering up more mobile apps and content that the carrier's customers can use without affecting their data plans.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) unveiled its plans for toll-free data, in which the sponsoring company pays for data usage stemming from its app rather than the consumer, in early January. The announcement sparked a lot of controversy at the time, with opponents afraid the carrier would create an uneven playing field by giving precedence to those brands that could afford to pay. (See AT&T Unveils Toll-Free, Sponsored Data and AT&T Toll-Free Data: Innovation or Rip-Off?)

AT&T has said it will not prioritize speeds or give undue support to brands that participate. Rather, it's positioning it as a way for brands to better engage with their customers, or for enterprises to connect with their employees. So far, most of the participating companies, like Hershey, appear to be using the service to offset the cost of delivering video adds to consumers.

The program, powered by Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX) and Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), so far is supported by three sponsored data providers, including ad platforms Aquto and HipCricket Inc. , and startup Syntonic Wireless, which has built a storefront powered by its Connected Services Platform, which couples mobile apps and content with 4G connectivity.

AT&T postpaid customers who are on its HSPA+ or LTE network and have a compatible Android or iOS smartphone, tablet, or laptop will be able to access the content store and download apps they can use toll free. Syntonic isn't naming any participating brands, but notes that the program is still in beta, with a commercial launch planned for August.

While AT&T's toll-free data plan doesn't actually reduce users' bills, the carrier will include usage of the apps on their monthly statements to show them how much data they would've burnt up had it been counted against the cap. The carrier hasn't yet revealed one crucial detail -- what it is charging the content providers per megabyte to be exempt from the cap -- but the set-up of its sponsored data does let it essentially make money twice -- from its customers and the participating brand.

This type of app-based billing model has sprung up across the globe in the past few years, and Heavy Reading expects to see more of it going forward. Despite the controversy around AT&T's implementation, analyst firm Ovum Ltd. named it an "innovative service of the month" in March, noting that the "service introduces a new business model for broadband connectivity for AT&T and paves the way for others to follow suit." (See Carriers Warm Up to Service Innovation.)

"As with any new business models, success depends on how well AT&T educates potential customers about the benefits of using the service," Ovum analyst Sara Kaufman wrote at the time. "The visibility and management features along with the analytics tools should encourage enterprise sponsors to try the offer."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(9)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
nasimson
50%
50%
nasimson,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/14/2014 | 11:35:26 AM
Re: Partners?
So which operators, which brands have replicated this model? I expect it to fly in places like Africa and South Asia where consumer affordability is low, but corporates are eager to let the masses try their video infotainment content.
mhhf1ve
50%
50%
mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/11/2014 | 4:10:26 PM
Re: Partners?
Amazon would have been a surprising partner.. especially since its Prime video streaming platform currently *requires* a Wifi connection (and gives an error if it detects a mobile network). 

Toll-free data plans are puzzling to me -- will consumers really keep track of which apps are "toll-free" and which aren't? I doubt it, unless AT&T pops up constant reminders that say, "try this toll-free data!" which will probably annoy users more than provide them with a better experience. 

 
mhhf1ve
50%
50%
mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/11/2014 | 4:01:09 PM
Sprint and T-mobile are a bit too quiet about toll-free data...
I wish the "unlimited data" plan providers (Sprint and T-Mobile) would take a firmer stand against toll-free data and promote their unlimited data services, for gosh sakes. Instead, it seems they're hedging and saying that they're open to the idea of maybe someday offering a way for toll-free data to exist in their networks -- which spells the doom of unlimited data plans, in my opinion.

I believe T-mobile is already testing out a toll-free data plan with a sub-brand (GoSmart Mobile, anyone heard of it?)... so if there is any market traction for toll-free data, it looks like the Un-Carrier will be ready to jump over to AT&T's toll-free strategy. yay /sarcasm
kq4ym
50%
50%
kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/11/2014 | 10:15:07 AM
Re: Partners?
Yes, this will be a way to help AT&T pursuade customers they're getting something free. But, as pointed out, if the apps are of little use to most folks, there's no real bargain here. Eventually, though I'm guessing providers are just going to have to work on free data plans for all anyway.
SReedy
100%
0%
SReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
7/10/2014 | 2:14:16 PM
Re: Partners?
So far, at least. It's still in Beta, so maybe they are trying to prove it out more before the big guys come on. Otherwise, everyone got worked up over nothing. Big names would definitely change that real fast though.
KBode
50%
50%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/10/2014 | 12:59:05 PM
Re: Partners?
Right? Visit our webstore that sells highly-fractured content I probably wasn't interested in in the first place? This idea only works for AT&T if numerous big name partners sign up, but it appears they aren't interested in paying AT&T an additional toll for the honor -- so far.
SReedy
100%
0%
SReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
7/10/2014 | 12:50:11 PM
Re: Partners?
Yeah, I was intrigued when Amazon was a rumored partner, but not so impressed now. Thanks for not charging me for the video ads I didn't want in the first place!
KBode
100%
0%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/10/2014 | 12:35:38 PM
Re: Partners?
I still think the idea sets a very dangerous precedent, even though these initial partner selections seem intent on boring us to death? Perhaps more major partners don't want the controversy involved in being a target of the net neutrality brigades.
SReedy
50%
50%
SReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
7/10/2014 | 9:51:27 AM
Partners?
This program makes a lot of sense for brands that deliver video ads and don't want to anger customers by burning up their data plan, but it has to get more exciting than that...right? I'll be curious to see what other brands get on board. Music apps seem to be the partner de jour. I still think Beats would be a good candidate for AT&T's program. That could be huge.
Flash Poll
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed NFV-Based Business Services by RAD

7|18|14   |   5:38   |   (0) comments


With the ETSI-approved Distributed NFV PoC running in the background, RAD's CEO, Dror Bin, talks about why D-NFV makes compelling sense for service providers, and about the dollars and cents RAD is putting behind D-NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
MRV Accelerating Packet Optical Convergence

7|15|14   |   6:06   |   (0) comments


Giving you network insight to make your network smarter.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV-Enabled Ethernet for Generating New Revenues

7|15|14   |   5:49   |   (0) comments


Cyan's Planet Orchestrate allows service providers and their end-customers to activate software-based capabilities such as firewalls and encryption on top of existing Ethernet services in just minutes.
LRTV Custom TV
Symkloud NVF-Ready Video Transcoding, Big Data

7|9|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


Kontron and ISV partner Vantrix demonstrate high-performance video transcoding and data analytic solutions on same 2U standard platform that is ready for SDN and NFV deployments made by mobile, cable and cloud operators.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Evolving Role of Hybrid Video for Competitive Success

7|4|14   |   4:09   |   (0) comments


At Huawei's Global Analysts Summit in Shenzhen, China, Steven C. Hawley from TV Strategies speaks to us about the evolving role of hybrid video for competitive success.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How CSPs Leverage Big Data in the Digital Economy

7|4|14   |   4:48   |   (2) comments


Justin van der Lande from Analysys Mason shares with us his views on how telecom operators can leverage customer asset monetization with big data. His discusses the current status of big data applications and the challenges and opportunities for telecom operators in the digital economy era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerator for Digital Business Future Oriented BSS

7|4|14   |   3:08   |   (0) comments


Mobile and internet are becoming intertwined; IT and CT are integrating; and leading CSPs have begun to transform to information service and entertainment providers. How should the BSS system evolve to enable this transformation? Karl Whitelock, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, shares his views.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Orange Tunisia Discusses Multi-Band Antenna With EasyRET Solution

7|4|14   |   2:45   |   (0) comments


As new site acquisition becomes more difficult, Orange Tunisia has requested multi-band antenna to support UMTS and LTE innovation. Some things considered include reducing the cost of antenna maintenance and having high reliability antenna and EasyRET solution.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How Telefonica Spain Considers Antenna Selection for LTE Network Deployment

7|4|14   |   2:19   |   (0) comments


Tony Conlan, Global CTO of RAN, Telefonica, shares his opinion on antennas in LTE network deployment: Tower space is the premier requirement on antennas; reliability is important to reduce OPEX; and EasyRET solution will be helpful for antenna maintenance.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
dtac Thailand: Multi-band Antenna & Capacity Solution for a Better MBB Experience

7|3|14   |   3:45   |   (0) comments


With the development of LTE, tower space and load are limited for new antenna, but users' capacity requirements are growing fast. To provide a better MBB experience, Panya Vechbanyongratana from dtac Thailand shared his experiences and antenna requirements.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE Panel: Network of the Future

7|2|14   |   1:00:57   |   (0) comments


Full-length video of the ATIS Panel Discussion: 'How Far Away Is the Network of the Future & What Does It Look Like?' from the Big Telecom Event (BTE) in Chicago.
LRTV Custom TV
Redknee Supports BH Telecom With Redknee Unified

7|2|14   |   6.14   |   (0) comments


Lucas Skoczkowski, CEO of Redknee, and Amir Orucevic, Director BH Mobile, discuss how the benefits of the Redknee Unified suite of products provide BH Telecom with innovation and leadership in the market, with the flexibility to launch services faster to the market, provide new and compelling promotions and pricing models, and combine services in order to drive ...
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
Infographics
Allot's latest MobileTrends Charging Report shows that value-based pricing plans are up from 35% in 2011 to 85% in 2014.
Hot Topics
Microsoft to Axe 12,500 Ex-Nokia Employees
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/17/2014
GM: 10 Car Models on Road With AT&T's LTE
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 7/18/2014
Have IBM & Apple Partnered Their Way to Cloud Leadership?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 7/18/2014
Analytics, Security Key to Apple, IBM Tie-Up
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 7/16/2014
Will Santa Fe Strategy Be a Message to Munis?
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 7/18/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed