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AT&T Introduces "Sponsored Data" Allowing Services to Bypass 4G Data Caps

Unknown Lamer posted about 9 months ago | from the pay-for-play dept.

AT&T 229

sirhan writes with news that AT&T has announced a program that allows companies to pay for their services to bypass mobile data caps. "With the new Sponsored Data service, data charges resulting from eligible uses will be billed directly to the sponsoring company ... Customers will see the service offered as AT&T Sponsored Data, and the usage will appear on their monthly invoice as Sponsored Data. Sponsored Data will be delivered at the same speed and performance as any non-Sponsored Data content." The Verge comments: "If YouTube doesn't hit your data cap but Vimeo does, most people are going to watch YouTube. If Facebook feels threatened by Snapchat and launches Poke with free data, maybe it doesn't get completely ignored and fail. If Apple Maps launched with free data for navigation, maybe we'd all be driving off bridges instead of downloading Google Maps for iOS." Or, think of distributed services: Mediagoblin vs Flickr, pump.io vs twitter, ownCloud vs Google Apps. This is probably a sign that data caps are here to stay, at least for AT&T subscribers (and if it's successful...).

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Clever? (3, Interesting)

Vermonter (2683811) | about 9 months ago | (#45886535)

This is a clever idea. After all, now they are potentially getting money from deep corporate pockets, while at the same time giving their customers a bit more. Seems like it might be a win-win for AT&T.

Re:Clever? (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 9 months ago | (#45886579)

while at the same time giving their customers a bit less

FTFY. Remember the days when AT&T actually gave you unlimited service (back when "unlimited" actually meant "unlimited")? Remember how angry we were when they introduced the data cap?

Re:Clever? (2, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about 9 months ago | (#45886863)

You never actually had unlimited transfer quota, at the prices they were charging you it was physically impossible just due to the way spectrum works. What changed is that perhaps truth in advertising became more important (hah), or perhaps peoples understanding of what a gigabyte is got better so it became easier to tell it like it is.

low cunning, not clever (5, Insightful)

feepcreature (623518) | about 9 months ago | (#45886583)

It's just a repackaging of the old net-discrimination ideas that provoked the Net Neutrality debate.

Make data allowances artificially low, and charge content providers to "ensure" they are not throttled. It's not in the interests of consumers, and it's not in the interests of content providers.

I can see why AT&T might like it though...

Re:low cunning, not clever (5, Informative)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | about 9 months ago | (#45886935)

Exactly - it's reverse net-neutrality.

I wonder when wired broadband service providers will do that - as it is, I'm pretty sure Comcast/Xfinity is doing sort of the same thing - I can watch as many things "on demand" on my cable box as I want without touching my bandwidth cap, but if I stream the same movies/shows from Netflix/Hulu, etc... then it does count against my cap (which I will just preach to choir and say "what part of unlimited don't you understand")

Re:low cunning, not clever (5, Insightful)

N1AK (864906) | about 9 months ago | (#45887061)

Quickest way to kill this? Google, Facebook and Twitter all bring in a policy saying that they won't pay providers who want to do this and providers doing this must pay them (at the same rate they charge) for all of their bandwidth their customers use or be blocked.

Re:low cunning, not clever (4, Insightful)

jd2112 (1535857) | about 9 months ago | (#45887125)

Exactly - it's reverse net-neutrality.

I wonder when wired broadband service providers will do that - as it is, I'm pretty sure Comcast/Xfinity is doing sort of the same thing - I can watch as many things "on demand" on my cable box as I want without touching my bandwidth cap, but if I stream the same movies/shows from Netflix/Hulu, etc... then it does count against my cap (which I will just preach to choir and say "what part of unlimited don't you understand")

Unlimited - adj. The amount of money that a service provider can extract from you, either directly or indirectly. e.g. "Comcast offers Unlimited internet connections"

Re:low cunning, not clever (2)

thewolfkin (2790519) | about 9 months ago | (#45887233)

I will just preach to choir and say "what part of unlimited don't you understand")

it's spelled Umlimited common mistake [youtube.com]

Re:Clever? (2)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 9 months ago | (#45886587)

And a loss for the open, free-sharing internet culture we've enjoyed so far. Perhaps we should revert to the one-way street that is Television.

Re:Clever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45887041)

No, it's only a loss for the open internet culture on your phone. Wired connections in your home aren't affected by this at all.

So we'd only have to revert to using phones for, oh, I don't know... talking.

Re:Clever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45887059)

Wired connections in your home aren't affected by this yet.
FTFY

Re:Clever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45886591)

More like devious. This is a blow to net neutrality. Goodnight, sweet prince.

Re:Clever? (4, Insightful)

Raumkraut (518382) | about 9 months ago | (#45886613)

Seems like it might be a win-win for AT&T.

For something to be win-win, it requires two parties to simultaneously "win". In this case, the only "winner" would be AT&T.
And it rather gives lie to what they claimed to be the entire point of data caps in the first place - to help prevent over-saturation and congestion of their wireless networks. If there isn't enough bandwidth, then there isn't enough bandwidth - it doesn't matter whether or not both ends of a TCP connection pay, or only one.

Re:Clever? (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about 9 months ago | (#45886697)

In theory it's possible to provide more bandwith if there's more revene coming in topay for the infrastructure.

Since the wireless market is a cartel enforced by licensing AT&T has little to no incentive to behave well.

Re:Clever? (4, Insightful)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 9 months ago | (#45886793)

In theory it's possible to provide more bandwith if there's more revene coming in topay for the infrastructure.

In theory AT&T should be using some of their $3+ Billion per quarter profits [engadget.com] to pay for infrastructure upgrades rather than claiming they don't have enough money so they can justify throttling services, applying ridiculous caps and ensuring consumer prices remain high.

Re:Clever? (5, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | about 9 months ago | (#45886995)

In theory it's possible to provide more bandwith if there's more revene coming in topay for the infrastructure.

In theory AT&T should be using some of their $3+ Billion per quarter profits [engadget.com] to pay for infrastructure upgrades rather than claiming they don't have enough money so they can justify throttling services, applying ridiculous caps and ensuring consumer prices remain high.

Why? They're a for-profit business and they have a legal responsibility to maximize shareholder return. They don't claim they don't have enough money -- they're under no obligation to offer unlimited services. They're under one and only one obligation -- maximize profit. You, as a consumer, can choose to buy their service or not. If enough people end up in "not" then maximizing their profits will mean doing something different.

That's the way business works.

Re:Clever? (4, Insightful)

swv3752 (187722) | about 9 months ago | (#45887107)

They have received much in the way of Federal subsidies to upgrade their infrastructure. If they are not going ot do that, then they should be paying it back with high interest.

Re:Clever? (0)

tgd (2822) | about 9 months ago | (#45887183)

They have received much in the way of Federal subsidies to upgrade their infrastructure. If they are not going ot do that, then they should be paying it back with high interest.

If that's the terms the government wants, they can set those terms.

Re:Clever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45887121)

They're under one and only one obligation -- maximize profit.

As we have seen, not true. They have a VERY strong obligation to feed data to the NSA. I doubt the Feds are willing to allow profit to trump THAT.

Re:Clever? (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 9 months ago | (#45886923)

The problem is "Peak" usage. Which is usually friday and Saturday evenings. The rest of the week the networks fine, but during those 2 times usage quadruples due to a few sites. YouTube, Netflix, etc... mostly netflix. Ironically filesharing isn't even discussed when they talk about this stuff. Netflix is 80% of our traffic on Friday and Saturday nights. There's a lot netflix could do to make this less of a pain in the ass for the ISPs but so far they've been total asshats about the situation.

The ISPs don't want to charge the suppliers to get more money (though it's a nice side effect) what they want them to do is share the burden on their content so they have more incentive to change their products to reduce load on the network. This is a really hard issue to adress without giving the Feds some control over the internet that we'd rather not...

Re:Clever? (1)

tgd (2822) | about 9 months ago | (#45887015)

Ironically filesharing isn't even discussed when they talk about this stuff.

Could be wrong, but I doubt many people are doing large scale filesharing on their mobile devices.

Re:Clever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45886753)

Seems like it might be a win-win for AT&T.

For something to be win-win, it requires two parties to simultaneously "win".

Sure... The first winner is AT, and the second winner is T. So AT&T both win. ;-)

Re:Clever? (4, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 9 months ago | (#45886773)

No, I work in the industry, there actually ISNT enough bandwidth. If this becomes popular, wait for the data caps to get lowered.

The only legitimate argument I've heard for this is that the content providers have been irresponsible with their delivery because it costs them nothing. For example, not allowing users to download off-hours, even encouraging them to all download at peak times, and not using proper compression. If using more bandwidth cost them more money then they'd be more inclined to work with the ISP to reduce the load on the consumers end.

Re:Clever? (4, Interesting)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 9 months ago | (#45886909)

Yet AT&T profited by $7.3 billion last year, which is enough to replace 2.3% of their assets (including buildings and wires). They've had sustained profits for many years, but yet there's still not enough bandwidth.

Re:Clever? (1)

stox (131684) | about 9 months ago | (#45887065)

Who knows? Maybe they will make enough money, one of these days, to actually maintain the local loop, which they have left to rot since divestiture.

Book value versus replacement value (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 9 months ago | (#45887209)

Yet AT&T profited by $7.3 billion last year, which is enough to replace 2.3% of their assets (including buildings and wires).

Probably not true. If you are looking at their balance sheet for asset value, remember that the assets shown are at book value [wikipedia.org] , not replacement value [wikipedia.org] . Many of those assets were bought a long time ago for prices that are significantly less than they would cost today. This is a perfectly normal accounting practice which makes sense for a number of arcane reasons but you can be fairly confident that AT&T's assets on their balance sheet probably understates their real worth if they had to go out and buy them today or if they were to sell them outside of a forced liquidation.

They've had sustained profits for many years, but yet there's still not enough bandwidth.

That doesn't mean they can decide to plow all profits back into infrastructure realistically, though I do agree with you that they could do a lot more than they have been.

Re:Clever? (1)

Pi1grim (1956208) | about 9 months ago | (#45887037)

Content providers pay for connection and bandwidth on their own end. We pay on our end. AT&T is trying to grab cache from both ends at once using extortion tactics: "pay for the content you provide that people want to watch or you'll be screwed royally".

Re:Clever? (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 9 months ago | (#45887289)

content providers have been irresponsible with their delivery

Hm?

For example, not allowing users to download off-hours

Aren't most of them streaming services which probably don't have a license to allow downloads (DRMed or otherwise)?
Even if they did allow downloads, don't most people these days favor streaming options? Why would I fret with starting a download at 8am (programming it into a DVR-like device, making sure it gets saved somewhere proper, etc.) when I can just hit play at 8pm anyway?

even encouraging them to all download at peak times

Did I miss a memo where e.g. Netflix tells people to watch Star Trek:TNG on Wednesday at 7pm just to piss off the infrastructure providers?
Otherwise, it seems to me that 'peak times' just happen to coincide with when people get home, or when a new episode of a popular series is made available, etc. That's not so much 'encouragement' as it is just the natural ebb and flow of media consumption.

and not using proper compression

Maybe you can just explain exactly what you mean here. If it's compression on the protocol level - well, maybe there are better options than what's being used now (what IS being used now?) - though the datastream tends to be not-so-easily-compressed anyway. If it's the actual media - e.g. "they should use lower bitrates in their encoding" - then I fear what the 'industry' is suggesting here, as most streams and downloads are quite block-artifacty enough, tyvm.

Re:Clever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45886795)

easy to fix: "Due to increased bandwidth use for sponsored services and to improve your AT&T i-can't-believe-it's-not-internet experience everything else will be throttled to shit. If you have any issues or questions please contact the nearest brick wall."

Re:Clever? (1)

Streetlight (1102081) | about 9 months ago | (#45887173)

There's one way AT&T could prevent congestion if there really is congestion: shut down users not getting paid data. Let's say web site A pays AT&T and web site B does not. When congestion occurs AT&T could throttle or shut down web site B to let web site's A data through. Doesn't sound good to me.

Re:Clever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45886655)

Except it's not a win-win for the customers. It's a system that incentivises traffic to large businesses but not to smaller sites that can't pay. Meanwhile the sponsored companies are paying for both broadband and sponsorship. It's a backwards way to get around net neutrality and to favor some businesses over others. And if you think they will keep it as simply paying to be free for customers rather than change it to something far less consumer friendly down the line, if they can get most of the big companies on board, is sadly mistaken.

PR Horseshit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45886669)

This is a clever idea. After all, now they are potentially getting money from deep corporate pockets, while at the same time giving their customers a bit more.

Are you an AT&T PR person? Why did you just parrot what the article (press release, really) said?

....said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobility. “This is an exciting new opportunity for us and, most importantly, our customers.”

... most importantly, our customers.

Oh shit! Talk about spin, baby! Any and ALL extra costs these companies incur, they WILL pass the costs on to the consumer.

Remember folks, corporate America is ALWAYS without exception, trying to pick your pocket.

This is just yet another way that they are degrading our service and spinning it like they are doing us a favor.

God, the American consumer is just a bunch of suckers - or just accepting the inevitable because there really isn't anything we can do about it because ATT and the rest of the telecom industry has Congress in their pockets.

Re:PR Horseshit (2)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 9 months ago | (#45886715)

What corp that has big money these days doesn't have Congress, a CongressCritter, or some type of politician in their pocket?

Re:Clever? (2)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 9 months ago | (#45886699)

Really, you don't think those deep pockets are going to somehow pass their savings on to the end users?

How about more ads, or hikes in subscriber rates, instead of you're $9 NetFlix sub imagine $40 for a NetFlix stream sub, to cover costs of their user base that watches on mobile media.

Anytime a company chooses to do something and passes it off to consumers as a mega corp will foot the bill, we usually end up paying in the end anyway.

Re:Clever? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 9 months ago | (#45886907)

Anytime a company chooses to do something and passes it off to consumers as a mega corp will foot the bill, we usually end up paying in the end anyway.

Hint: you ALWAYS pay for everything you use in the end. Whether it's a fee charged up front, or a hidden cost, you're paying for it. Raise taxes on corporations, you pay for it. Raise fees, you pay for it.

Only question is how you pay for it - fees, taxes, whatever works....

Re:Clever? (1)

loonycyborg (1262242) | about 9 months ago | (#45887081)

Hint: you ALWAYS pay for everything you use in the end. Whether it's a fee charged up front, or a hidden cost, you're paying for it. Raise taxes on corporations, you pay for it. Raise fees, you pay for it.

Nonetheless there are ways of artificially inflating prices and getting more money while doing jack shit. End users are inherently less skilled at it and can't see whether particular service fee is a blatant ripoff or providing it actually involves some effort for the provider. I wish we would more often forget about money and look at economic activities themselves and gauge whether they're efficient enough or some side of them is being outright taken advantage of. After all money are just abstractions.

Re:Clever? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 9 months ago | (#45887085)

Yes and no. AT&T, as with most telcos (and most businesses in general), almost certainly gives better deals to people who buy in bulk. I imagine that Netflix would buy a lot more bandwidth in aggregate than any of their customers, so would get a much better per-GB deal. If you actually use the data, then it's probably cheaper.

Re:Clever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45886797)

+5 Interesting?! For regurgitating what the press release said?!

Really?!

Re:Clever? (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 9 months ago | (#45886813)

Big win for AT&T--and a big loss for everyone else, of course. My libertarian friends all tell me that ending government regulation will produce a freer market. But this is a great example of what it REALLY produces (a closed market controlled completely by a handful of powerful monopolies who shut out any potential competition).

Re:Clever? (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about 9 months ago | (#45886855)

Clever, yes. Win for anyone but AT&T? Hell no. The Internet became what it is because it was the very antithesis of traditional media. This move is a huge step towards turning it back into little more than cable TV.

Re:Clever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45886861)

Shut the fuck up shill. This is disgusting greed and nothing else.

Re:Clever? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 9 months ago | (#45886939)

My mobile phone provider has had something similar for a while. If you visit 0.facebook.com [facebook.com] you get to browse Facebook for free. It offers a minimal version of the website, but still allows you to read your message, and update your status. It's good for everybody involved. Because the site is very minimalistic, the it's less traffic on the network. The user gets free access to Facebook. And Facebook get more people visiting their site, more often. If companies want to pay for my bandwidth then that's better than me paying for it. Although somehow I think they are getting billed $1 per MB like the customers.

Re:Clever? (1)

N1AK (864906) | about 9 months ago | (#45887087)

No it isn't. You'll still be paying for it, whether it is via being exposed to more adverts or paying more for a netflix subscription. Additionally, it means that it will be far harder for new companies to enter the market because they'll either have to pay massive amounts for user bandwidth costs or offer substandard service. This gives the current providers a more protected position and means they can increase charges without worrying about being disrupted.

Re:Clever? (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 9 months ago | (#45887281)

Win-Win for AT&T but lose-lose for small companies. Say I found a new online video service. As it is, I'll have a tough time competing with YouTube, but suppose I provide amazing service so I get a loyal following. Now, all of a sudden, AT&T asks if I want to pay them extra so that their customers' data caps won't be impacted if they use my service. Being a small company, I can't afford it, but Google sure can. They pay and YouTube use is now "free" data-wise. My service, though, still costs users their data. Small companies will have an even harder time now competing against the big boys. (This will only get worse if Verizon and Sprint hop on board as well.)

It's lose-lose for customers as well since this turns using an online service from a sure "data hit" to an uncertain one. Did this service pay to exempt their data? Maybe they did or maybe they didn't. Maybe they did and you get used to using a lot of this service but then they dropped the "caps bypass surcharge" and suddenly your data cap is reached.

men! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45886537)

The female creatures are everywhere! Release the self-replicating dildo-bots. Soon we will be free of female oppression. For a Gay Universe!

And thus begins the end (4, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | about 9 months ago | (#45886557)

And thus begins the balkanized internet and the end of network neutrality, where service providers can start negotiating big bundle provisioning of their services over others.

This is bad (4, Insightful)

LandDolphin (1202876) | about 9 months ago | (#45886573)

This is bad for the market. The glory of the internet is that the barrier ro entry is so low. IF you start making it to where a company has to pay for the bandwidth of its users, then you raise the barrier of entry. Not good for innovation.

Re:This is bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45886649)

This is bad for the market.

It's bad for the internet. It's probably good for the economics of the market.

Re:This is bad (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | about 9 months ago | (#45887035)

Economics of a few, not the market as a whole.

Re:This is bad (4, Informative)

Raumkraut (518382) | about 9 months ago | (#45886705)

IF you start making it to where a company has to pay for the bandwidth of its users, then you raise the barrier of entry. Not good for innovation.

Internet companies already pay for the bandwidth of their users - all incoming and outgoing traffic to a data centre is bandwidth which the data centre must pay their internet provider to carry.

Re:This is bad (2)

neoform (551705) | about 9 months ago | (#45886985)

And they're adding a new layer of costs. Now instead of just paying for your bandwidth, you have to bribe hundreds of local ISPs to allow access to them.

This is just a sneaky way for AT&T to break net neutrality, first they offer special access to companies with deep pockets, next they start explicitly charging companies for mere access.

Re:This is bad (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 9 months ago | (#45887339)

True, though think by "bandwidth of their users", LandDolphin was referring to paying twice. So Google pays once for YouTube to have enough bandwidth to serve content across the Internet. Customers pay their ISP for enough bandwidth to stream the YouTube content. Now, however, AT&T wants Google to pay for the customer's bandwidth as well as Google's own. Plus, since they'll still be charging the customer for their bandwidth, AT&T will effectively be paid twice for the same bandwidth. (More if Amazon and Facebook, and others pay as well.)

Re:This is bad (3, Funny)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 9 months ago | (#45886791)

This is bad for the market.

That's unpossible! All my libertarian friends assure me that getting the government off the backs of our noble corporations will result in more freedom and openness, a free market utopia!

Re:This is bad (1)

N1AK (864906) | about 9 months ago | (#45887139)

The problem with libertarian views, and a lot of criticism of libertarian views is based on incorrectly judging the extent of changes required. If we removed all the net neutrality laws but at the same time removed all the laws, contracts etc that grant government monopolies to companies maybe the increase in competition by ISPs (which are often severely limited in the US) would mean that you wouldn't need the laws. Do I think that we should remove net neutrality? Probably not because it is such a fundamental and important benefit to society, but I'd consider it more seriously if we could provide a thriving and competitive market where I could be confident I could choose an ISP offering it.

Oh? Bandwith caps due to frequencies what? (4, Insightful)

PPalmgren (1009823) | about 9 months ago | (#45886599)

The issue with wireless data is entirely about last mile, the frequencies alotted and the limits of transfer within a cell at any given moment. Peering works on wired networks because throughput on the last mile outstrips deployment, the exact opposite issue of wireless networks.

Arguing that their obscene data caps are because of the wireless bandwith limits, then turning around and offering this without any true benefit to their bandwith issue other than their bottom line, is assinine.

Double Dipping (4, Informative)

DigiWood (311681) | about 9 months ago | (#45886601)

This is called "double dipping". These providers are not supposed to be able to do this according to the common carrier rules. The subscriber pays and they get their allotment. Any other payments to "overlook" a data cap that are made by a third party violates the common carrier rules because it creates an unfair advantage for large companies. They can afford to pay a fee to basically make the little guy penalized (having the little guys data count against the subscriber). If the subscribers complained to the FCC this pilot project would be stopped dead in its tracks.

I fear though that the only people that would care are the technically minded subscribers. The others would be snowed by some marketing speak.

Re:Double Dipping (2)

Imrik (148191) | about 9 months ago | (#45886623)

ISPs aren't subject to common carrier rules, they get the benefits without the restrictions.

Re:Double Dipping (1)

DigiWood (311681) | about 9 months ago | (#45886631)

AT&T isn't just an ISP. They are a top tier carrier. I would hope that the same rules apply.

Re:Double Dipping (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 9 months ago | (#45886757)

They, unfortunately, do not.

rush to the lowest common denominator (1)

Cardoor (3488091) | about 9 months ago | (#45886617)

so the big corporate sponsors can pay to keep the sheep quietly fed and herded. this sounds like the internet equivalent of corporate 'sponsors' making it so that the supermarket quality food and produce is so much more expensive than a sack-of-10 whitecastles or a greesy $5 pizza from papa johns that can feed a poor family of four.

Re:rush to the lowest common denominator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45886785)

Regardless of cost, supermarket produce will always be less convenient than prepared fast food.

YouTube is the video hosting equivalent of fast food: consistent delivery of processed video in predictable resolutions for easy consumption.

loophole? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45886625)

Find a way to proxy all your data through a Sponsored Data service, and bypass your cap.

Re:loophole? (2)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 9 months ago | (#45886729)

3.????
4.Profit

Business opportunity (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 9 months ago | (#45886803)

It depends on how AT&T prices the back end of their services. It might be worth it to get the minimum data plan ($15 for 200MB on a tablet, for example...if they still have that) and sign up with a bandwidth proxy to route all traffic through their server at, say, $2-5/GB, if the backend rates are advantageous enough. I don't think AT&T will allow this, as it would cut into their profits for the medium-metered plans.

Inversion of Control (3, Interesting)

Warbothong (905464) | about 9 months ago | (#45886643)

What makes this interesting is the inversion of control. For years, net neutrality has basically hinged on the fact that users are paying their ISP for bandwidth, so it's up to the user what they do with it. This idea completely inverts that, so the user has absolutely no control anymore.

We were worried that walled gardens like Facebook were turning the Web into a consumer service, well this will do the same for the Internet itself.

This should be NOT regulated (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45886645)

I hope people offering Internet services will be free to charge in this way,
because regulating Itnernet is causing lot's of trouble.

It's quiet, too quiet... (1)

BisuDagger (3458447) | about 9 months ago | (#45886659)

This is one of a few good steps AT&T is finally taking to get their business back on track. Now all we can do is wait to see how they back stabbed us with something secretive. This is classic misdirection. Well played sirs, but two can play this game. I'm going to do the opposite of what you want and renew my two year contract.

Re:It's quiet, too quiet... (1)

Lord Lemur (993283) | about 9 months ago | (#45886893)

Didn't they have a 42% margin in Q3 of last year, I don't think the term "back on track" really applies. Sure, they are having difficulties expanding that margin.

Re:It's quiet, too quiet... (1)

BisuDagger (3458447) | about 9 months ago | (#45886983)

It takes many steps to get to the top of stairs. Let's just say they are headed in the right direction currently.

geezer on the deck. (5, Funny)

nimbius (983462) | about 9 months ago | (#45886683)

the realist in me cant wait for this ayn-rand-as-a-service model to fail quietly another testament to ATT's pissbucket service in general. when given the opportunity, people will find other means to consume their favourite-as-a-service product that dont require sponsorship from some obtuse telecommunications conglomerate. every device on the planet has the option to connect to a wireless network, and that network likely doesnt have the kind of caps we're talking about in 4G land. WiMAX and municipal projects, library wireless and other providers will just make the effort that much more futile.

but im an old man (whats berkley vs ATT?) and the last big innovation for me was adding another monitor. Every turtleneck wearing coffee guzzling poseur giving their IDevice shaken-baby-syndrome in cap-induced frustration is instantly drowned out in the roaring cacophany of my mighty model M. Every tween fruit slashing and bird launching their way to mediocrity, tramp stamps and low test scores, is rendered irrelevant by my Thinkpad TrackPoint, gingerly lubricated in years of fine oils from chester cheetah himself. And the road warrior adjacent my supple yet torturous airport lounge chair gazes upon me as some sort of mystic christgod. For from the aether my sorcery has conjured up hundreds of thousands of documents when his most fervent efforts could not. in bated breath he will ask me, "how?" as his battery fails and his wireless bars recede. "local, repository." will be the words I visit upon him and like a cry so maddening unto his ears he will be rendered forever enlightened.

now if you'll please get off my lawn, I need to go back inside. the wheel is on.

Re:geezer on the deck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45887077)

This is beautiful.

Re:geezer on the deck. (2)

bgarcia (33222) | about 9 months ago | (#45887111)

I think the shift key on your mighty model M is only working sporadically.

Gay T and T (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45886691)

This company sucks big time. And I thought I remembered reading a few months ago that they supported net neutrality. Total BS. Even Verizon does better

Re:Gay T and T (2)

tgd (2822) | about 9 months ago | (#45887177)

This company sucks big time. And I thought I remembered reading a few months ago that they supported net neutrality. Total BS. Even Verizon does better

They may suck, but seriously -- don't act like a mouth breathing twelve year old with the slurs.

Its just "pay to play" (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 9 months ago | (#45886693)

This should be clearly illegal and i hope they get slapped down for this as its anti-competitive.

Re: Its just "pay to play" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45886755)

More likely they will make even more money doing this shit and Verizon and Sprint will follow suit...

These aren't the facts you're looking for. (3, Funny)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 9 months ago | (#45886719)

So you mean the people with the money (corporations) would prefer to censor the information the average citizen has access to?

This would be unprecedented.

Re:These aren't the facts you're looking for. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45886951)

Yeah, that makes no sense. You would think the NSA would get their buddies at AT&T to not censor so they can catch the Jihadics. I guess the NSA has really been weakened by all the negative news.

Double Dipping (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45886741)

This sounds like a great idea, until you are apprised of the facts.

1/ The actual cost of mobile data is a tiny fraction of what carriers charge customers.
2/ Most carriers already run their own un-metered versions of popular services, in direct competition to general internet services.
3/ The data caps are completely arbitrary but seem to be capped at just below what would be needed for efficient use of outside services.
4/ The agreed payment protocol for internet services is that each party pays for provision of their own segments and does a piering agreement for any directional disparity on data carriage.

Therefore, AT&T is double dipping for the same data, engaged in anti-competitive practices and running a price fixing cartel against the price of data.

"In this I would trust AT&T about as far as I could spit out a fully grown sewer rat"

The future of the internet (4, Informative)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 9 months ago | (#45886745)

With the end of net neutrality, it was really only a matter of time before we started to see the internet turn into a place where the big companies control the data, and the little guys and startups get shut out. Free market my ass.

Re:The future of the internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45886937)

The big companies already control the data through economies of scale. The owners of big data centers can offer hosting at lower prices than the little guys. Amazon is growing to become data center to the world as startups use their cloud instead of hosting companies. That's the free market at work, even without considering net neutrality.

Popularity helps big companies get bigger because people really, really like huge monopolies. Everybody uses Google and YouTube because everybody else uses Google and YouTube. YouTube is so incredibly ridiculously popular that people post videos of things that shouldn't even be videos, such as tutorials of how to edit configuration files, just because YouTube videos appear at the top of Google searches. The little guys get shut out because little guys are unpopular and nobody uses unpopular sites.

Re:The future of the internet (2)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 9 months ago | (#45886977)

The problem is that YouTube and Google were once the little guys themselves. Thanks to the neutrality of the early internet, they were able to get their start, prove their worth, and earn their spot as top dogs in a fair, free market environment. But now, with the end of net neutrality as a principle (both in government regulation and accepted market practice), the next Google or YouTube will never even get off the ground without going begging to one of the big companies for patronage. Innovation suffers and so does the consumer.

Re:The future of the internet (1)

alen (225700) | about 9 months ago | (#45887067)

youtube bought a superbowl ad which made them popular, rode the wave and then sold out to google

Re:The future of the internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45887219)

The consumer doesn't suffer because the consumer doesn't care about innovation. Google exists and everyone uses it. The very idea that other search engines could exist is already fading from the common knowledge. The next Google doesn't need to exist until after Google ceases to exist.

Re:The future of the internet (1)

Lord Lemur (993283) | about 9 months ago | (#45887013)

The telco market is divergent from a classic free market in a number of ways.
1. High entry costs, making it a natural monopoly.
2. Incomplete information about the market to all players, because it's a reall market, not a logical construct.
3. A finite number of participants, again as above.
4. Lack of interchangeable goods, because vendor lock in is critical in every industry where it is possible.

This is the natural evolution of a free (as in Libertarian-free, not Adam Smith-free) market. Luckly, we had a bit of regulation to slow it, and reset it in the 80's.

Re:The future of the internet (2)

organgtool (966989) | about 9 months ago | (#45887093)

Free market my ass.

This is precisely the results of the free market. Since there aren't regulations preventing data providers from double dipping or colluding with internet services, AT&T is free to offer "services" such as this, Don't worry, though, the market has a solution: if you don't like what AT&T is doing, then simply start your own nationwide wireless network to compete with them. The free market works!

Re:The future of the internet (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 9 months ago | (#45887217)

Umm.. And how do you do that??? I mean it is not like there is access to the frequencies needed to create one. If the government sold more then ATT or the other carriers would pay vastly more then you can afford to get it, even just to keep you from entering the market.

Sounds like 800 all over again (1)

jmcharry (608079) | about 9 months ago | (#45886825)

Why would a company sign up for this? Additional business, sure, but also for identifying information on users. If you call an 800 number, the called party gets your phone number, even if it is blocked, because they are the phone company's customer paying for the call. If they pay extra, they get it in real time. I suppose the plan is to do the same with sponsored data service.

As with 800 service, the sponsoring company might choose the areas to which it would pay for the data delivery, perhaps with granularity down to the cell site. This would be great for selling local advertising, and avoiding wasting money on low income areas and areas outside the desired marketing region. Balkanize and rule!

My caps off to yah. (2, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 9 months ago | (#45886833)

I thought they already admitted the caps have nothing to do with congestion? [techdirt.com]

I wonder how much it would cost a quasi-turn based action RPG dev like me to get no data caps for trickling in world-battle-map updates so you don't have to wait to get your game on. I mean, in the middle of the night streaming in a bunch of data isn't costing them congestion issues. The hardware has to be there whether anyone's using it or not. I bet it'll be too pricey for me. Guess folks will just have to play it on their wired connections. So much for "progress".

If we had a few more competitors this wouldn't happen. [youtube.com]

Too obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45886835)

AT&T should be charging for something more technical and obscure. Then they could argue that it's "complicated" and not about net neutrality.

What happened to "networks are overloaded"? (4, Insightful)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | about 9 months ago | (#45886871)

So, the original reason for data caps were that a few unscrupulous users were hogging all of the bandwidth and making everyone else suffer through a poor network experience...

I guess either that wasn't the real reason or AT&T doesn't mind if you have a poor network experience as long as they get more money...

Re:What happened to "networks are overloaded"? (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 9 months ago | (#45886961)

So, the original reason for data caps were that a few unscrupulous users were hogging all of the bandwidth and making everyone else suffer through a poor network experience... I guess either that wasn't the real reason or AT&T doesn't mind if you have a poor network experience as long as they get more money...

Your post rminds me of the George Carlin bit on "Where Did All The Oil Come From?" here [youtube.com]

Net Neutrality: RIP (1)

Digicrat (973598) | about 9 months ago | (#45886965)

So, 2014 is to be the year the concept of Net Neutrality is officialy dead and buried. A sad time for the net indeed.

Re:Net Neutrality: RIP (1)

organgtool (966989) | about 9 months ago | (#45887181)

We can't say we didn't see this coming. When Obama appointed an industry lobbyist as the FCC chairman, he put the fox in charge of the hen house. It could take decades to undo the mess that this guy will likely create given his background.

Sprint (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | about 9 months ago | (#45886969)

What bothers me is the additional revenue this will generate for AT&T may entice Sprint to go the same route by ending unlimited LTE and going to caps and metering. It's just another enticement. I'm digging my Sprint service just as it is.

Technological solutions. (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#45887045)

Improved compression? Distributed, longer-term caching? Dynamic mesh networking?

Replacing the internet is a bit ambitious, but perhaps there is some way to lessen the need for such amounts of data, or to opportunistically transfer it by other means.

Like the old days! (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 9 months ago | (#45887123)

AT&T is almost back to its former monopolistic glory and feels confident enough to squeeze every dime out of all the content providers and customers. Congratulations AT&T for bringing back the old days.

Thank goodness I don't have them anymore. Oh wait, yes there are other carriers out there. I can see how this can backfire on AT&T. Instead of paying AT&T for the privilege of unlimited data to their customer. I see content providers encouraging their customers to choose a better carrier.

AT&T is seriously guilty of .... (1)

3seas (184403) | about 9 months ago | (#45887241)

...throttling youtube!!!

Sure... (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 9 months ago | (#45887263)

And that'll work until some massive content carrier builds out their own damn network and makes it significantly cheaper for their own customers to access their content than everyone else. Guess who's doing that right now.... Google. They have their fingers in all the right pies to start eviscerating the current network providers, and everyone's going to be all stunned when that's what starts happening.
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