& cplSiteName &

More AT&T Toll-Free Data Apps Trickle Out

Sarah Thomas
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        ADD A COMMENT
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.
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.
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.
From The Founder
NFV's promises of automation and virtualization are intriguing, but what really excites service providers is the massive amount of money they could save.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
Huawei Videos
The Power of Next-Gen Unified Communications

8|23|17   |   04:46   |   (0) comments


How Huawei's unified communications and videoconferencing platforms are saving time and money and improving customer experience for users in Italy.
LRTV Documentaries
Phone Review: Moto Z2 Play

8|22|17   |   1:54   |   (0) comments


Light Reading Mobile Editor Dan Jones reviews the Moto Z2 Play, which he calls 'a nice modern Android phone with good battery life and one of the nicest cameras' he's seen. The Moto Z2 Play is a Gigabit LTE-ready phone, but we were not able to test speeds that fast in the US.
LRTV Documentaries
Three Gets Smart(y), BT Invokes Twitter – The Recap

8|21|17   |     |   (0) comments


From Telecoms.com, a recap of the week's telecoms talking points. It's been a week of gimmicks as Three tests out a pay-as-you-go sub-brand called Smarty; Comcast
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
VMWare VP Brings Women Up With Her

8|16|17   |   6:49   |   (1) comment


It's an art and a science to make mentorship, inclusive leadership, diversity and promotion of high-potential women work, says Honore' LaBourdette, vice president of Global Market Development at VMWare.
LRTV Documentaries
5G Spectrum Wars – The Recap

8|15|17   |   2:22   |   (0) comments


Service provider 3 has filed a lawsuit against Ofcom over 5G spectrum auction in the UK.
LRTV Custom TV
Say What? Facebook Unleashes AI Anarchy – The Recap

8|7|17   |     |   (0) comments


A recap of the week's talking points on Light Reading's sister site, telecoms.com. Facebook AI programmers had a bit of a brain-fade as they allowed one of its AI applications to invent its ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu's Women Band Together to Help Girls Do STEM

8|2|17   |   9:35   |   (1) comment


Supporting women both inside and outside of Fujitsu is a top priority of the telecom vendor. Yanbing Li, Fujitsu Network Communication's director of System Software Development & Delivery, shares why it's important, but why there's still a long road ahead.
LRTV Custom TV
If You're Not First, You're Last – The Recap

7|31|17   |   08:18   |   (1) comment


In case you missed it, Amazon's 1% stock increase helped Jeff Bezos dethrone Bill Gates as the richest man in the world. Also, Taiwanese electronics manufacturer
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
AT&T's Tech President Preps Workforce for the Future

7|26|17   |   5:47   |   (10) comments


AT&T is focused on the software-defined network of the future and is reskilling its workforce to get ready too, according to AT&T's President of Technology Development Melissa Arnoldi.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Cisco: Mentoring Critical to Attract & Retain Women

7|19|17   |   6:40   |   (1) comment


Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Computing System Product Group, shares why mentoring in all its forms is important for women and what Cisco is doing that's made a difference for women in tech.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit LTE With Snapdragon 835

7|12|17   |     |   (1) comment


At an event in Wembley stadium, EE used its live network to demonstrate gigabit LTE using a Sony Xperia XZ Premium smartphone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip.
LRTV Custom TV
Implementing Machine Intelligence With Guavus

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


Guavus unites big data and machine intelligence, enabling many of the the largest service providers in the world to save money and drive measureable revenue. Learn how applying Machine Intelligence substantially reduces operational costs and in many cases can eliminate subscriber impact, meaning a better subscriber experience and higher NPS.
Upcoming Live Events
September 28, 2017, Denver, CO
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
AT&T Spreads Fiber & G.fast Wings
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 8/22/2017
Why AT&T May Dump Home Security Biz
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 8/21/2017
Verizon & Friends Bust Through Gigabit LTE in the Lab
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/21/2017
Disney, iflix Team Up to Take Down Netflix
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 8/22/2017
WiCipedia: Dolly Babes, Manifesto Backlash & 'Brotastic' Failures
Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, 8/18/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Animals with Phones
Talk About a Custom-Made Workstation! Click Here
Proper ergonomics indeed.
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.