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AT&T The Almighty Buck

AT&T Introduces "Sponsored Data" Allowing Services to Bypass 4G Data Caps 229

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the pay-for-play dept.
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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AT&T Introduces "Sponsored Data" Allowing Services to Bypass 4G Data Caps

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  • Clever? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Vermonter (2683811) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:06AM (#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? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:15AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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.

      • Re:Clever? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @11:01AM (#45887411) Journal

        This is anti-net neutrality under a different name. The throttle mechanism is supra-data cap charges instead of literal throttling.

        • Re:Clever? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by houstonbofh (602064) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @11:27AM (#45887721)

          This is anti-net neutrality under a different name. The throttle mechanism is supra-data cap charges instead of literal throttling.

          No it isn't. Since bandwidth is now a metered product, this is noting more than a network 800 number. The speeds are the same, it is just a question of who pays.

          • Re:Clever? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @01:06PM (#45888671)

            this is noting more than a network 800 number

            It's nothing less than turning an inherently peer-to-peer medium for expression into Cable TV 2.0. It's pretty much explicitly designed to stifle new innovation (whether created by a fledgling company or especially when created as an open, distributed/self-hosted protocol) in favor of large entrenched players like Google and Facebook.

          • by BrookHarty (9119)

            This is anti-net neutrality under a different name. The throttle mechanism is supra-data cap charges instead of literal throttling.

            No it isn't. Since bandwidth is now a metered product, this is noting more than a network 800 number. The speeds are the same, it is just a question of who pays.

            Its really simple, as an ISP, if you make your own services faster by purposly making others slow or cost more, thats against net neutrality.

            AT&T is including their own services as unmetered so customers will want to use them over others. AT&T offers owncloud an online storage you pay for monthly, yet now bandwidth is excluded. They even let you back up your home PC and Phone's internal/external storage.

            This is the the heart of network nuterality, an ISP's (Which AT&T is), charging more to us

      • AT&T did that briefly and then only for certain devices. Throughout most of their data-providing history, they've billed data by the byte and/or provided quotas. And they've never offered any combination of BYOD with uncapped data.

        In other words, AT&T has always sucked. So FWIW, this proposal isn't too bad. And also FWIW, when, in the past, I've suggested enforced network neutrality might be going too far, this is the kind of application I saw as legitimate that anti-NN laws would ban. I still th

    • by feepcreature (623518) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:16AM (#45886583) Homepage

      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...

      • by DigitalSorceress (156609) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @10:05AM (#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")

        • by N1AK (864906) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @10:24AM (#45887061) Homepage
          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.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @11:15AM (#45887597)

            This, with a healthy dose of "post it on the top of every page of the site until the issue goes away" at those three sites, and the ISP's will have so much backlash it'll break their necks. Bonus points if they also say "loading this page has cost you $X bytes of data usage against your cap." Extra bonus points if they say "contact $ISPName customer service at $ISPPhoneNumber to ask for a data plan that doesn't have this limit."

            Then watch as the fecal material collides with the mechanical cooling device.

        • by jd2112 (1535857) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @10:31AM (#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"

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

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

        • Exactly - it's reverse net-neutrality.

          I wonder when wired broadband service providers will do that

          AT&T has had an identical service for broadband for a long time. I don't think any content provider signed up for it.

    • 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? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Raumkraut (518382) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:20AM (#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.

      • 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? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Vanderhoth (1582661) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:47AM (#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? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by tgd (2822) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @10:15AM (#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? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by swv3752 (187722) <swv3752.hotmail@com> on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @10:29AM (#45887107) Homepage Journal

              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.

            • Actually given that AT&T is in an oligopoly with (Other nefarious large telecom) and they've pretty much shutdown the idea of other competition stepping in, you really don't have a choice. That is unless you want to live in a cave with no internet or TV. Full disclosure, I'm actually Canadian, we have our own issues with our telecoms up here, but our systems are pretty closely linked so if AT&T decides to go that route you can be pretty damn sure Rodgers, and Bell will follow suit quickly.

              I think
              • by tgd (2822)

                Actually given that AT&T is in an oligopoly with

                That's a different ATT. This is talking about mobile data caps. They're sibling subsidiaries, but not the same company. If you don't like what ATT is doing, you can switch to Verizon or T-Mobile. They cover almost all the same areas.

            • Re:Clever? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by smillie (30605) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @11:25AM (#45887699) Journal

              They're a for-profit business and they have a legal responsibility to maximize shareholder return.

              This idea always shows up whenever business is mentioned on slashdot. There is NO legal requirement to maximize profits, shareholder return or even to try to make a profit. The board of directors might get voted out if they keep making bad choices but that is by vote of shareholders, not a legal process.

              You should read Google's SEC filings that say something like "we will do whatever we feel like doing even though some of those choices will cause a loss for the company."

              Caesors Palace (Las Vegas) destroyed about 90% of the value of the company in the 80's to avoid a hostle takeover. As a shareholder I lost a boatload of money on that one but there was no legal recourse except voting to kick out the board of directors at the next shareholder meeting.

            • The $5-$10 in "cost recovery fees" most wireless and telco charge to "compensate" basic features of their network says differently.

              These guys are triple dipping... Feds gave them tax breaks, local regulators give them recovery fees, and when they finally bring the new service online they change the BUSINESS RULES not just the pricing.

              I don't have a problem with data caps vs unlimited... But what they WANT is a percentage of Netflix INCOME... Like a mall takes, not the fair value of the bandwidth (which the

            • That's the way business works.

              No, that's the way business works when they don't have a monopoly or anti-competitive oligopoly.

              When there's adequate competition and businesses need to win customers over by product and service quality, then yes, they can do a whatever they want to maximize profits, because any steps they take towards such ends are offset by the pressure of competition. One business gets too greedy, another one will swoop in and eat their lunch.

              Monopolies (and oligopolies) are supposed to play by different rules. They

        • 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

          • by tgd (2822)

            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.

          • But Netflux USED TO cohost AT ISP sites.. To relieve the load. Then somebody decided they could only be in certain sites, then they skyrocketed the price ... Trying to bank off companies that wanted hosting inside the ISP.

            So Netflix pulled all their stuff and moved it " across the street" to the "Internet" side of the ISP's pipes forcing the ISP to get more service from their Internet provider.

            The ISPs (att, cable) started this in an effort to "monetize" their Internet customers by making "colocating" insi

          • Re:Clever? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Rotag_FU (2039670) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @11:26AM (#45887711)

            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.

            I disagree about the claim that Netflix is not trying to help the situation. After all they did introduce Open Connect (http://gigaom.com/2013/11/11/netflixs-new-pitch-for-open-connect-it-sucks-less-during-prime-time/) to address this situation. Basically they told ISPs that they would provide a content delivery network that would be colocated on their system to relieve network stresses. Netflix provides the hardware for free and all the ISP has to do is hook it up to their network and provide the space/power for the hardware. On top of that, it gives the ISP participating in Open Connect a competitive advantage since the Netflix streams can be higher resolution than other ISPs that do not participate.

            Rather than being an "asshat" this seems to be going above and beyond to provide the ISPs with a solution for the claimed problems. Of course the real issue is that the ISPs (usually cable) are upset that Netflix is rapidly turning them into a dumb pipe and cannibalizing their ad revenue. However, the ISPs know that this is not a customer friendly argument so they make the, seemingly reasonable, argument about the heavy network utilization saturating. Netflix provided a solution to the stated problem, but not the real one (i.e. cable company greed).

            It is also important to remember that the reason people pay the ISP for internet access is to have access to services like Netflix. If those services were not available, the ISPs would have less customers. If anything the ISPs should be thanking companies like Netflix, Google, etc. for providing content that people want and therefore compel them to want to buy internet access in the first place.

      • Re:Clever? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:44AM (#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? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Sarten-X (1102295) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @10:01AM (#45886909) Homepage

          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.

          • by stox (131684)

            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.

          • 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

            • by Sarten-X (1102295)

              they could do a lot more than they have been.

              That was really my whole point. I've worked in finance, and know enough to see the numbers as indications rather than facts. That's also why I didn't worry too much about using the figure that includes operational assets like buildings, and vehicles.

              Basically, I don't think it's ever really been argued that AT&T has the bandwidth to support unlimited data, but for hegemonic reason just doesn't allow access to it. Rather, the most common argument I've seen is that AT&T is intentionally avoiding netwo

        • 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 encourag

        • The problem is that telcos and cable "shot first". First by creating huge geographic "walked gardens" where "the Internet" is several states away from where the customer resides. So they did collocation... Until real estate got tight so they started charging "mall rent" to try to profit from companies relieving THEIR bandwidth problems.

          Then everybody took their collocation to the backbone providers (often literally across the street) where telcos can worry about paying for the extra pipes.

          Telcos and cable

        • If this becomes popular, wait for the data caps to get lowered.

          True, it'll certainly help with their bandwidth issues if they push customers off their networks and onto T-Mobile's.

          On the other hand, their shareholders will be pissed if that happens, so my guess would be they'll instead use the most of the money coming in from this project to put up more towers while reducing cell sizes.

    • by g0bshiTe (596213)
      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.
      • 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....

        • 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.

      • 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.
    • by TWiTfan (2887093)

      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).

    • by Jawnn (445279)
      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.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      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 bett
      • by N1AK (864906)
        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.
    • 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 u

      • by rjstanford (69735)

        In theory if the prices that you and YouTube were paying per GB were equal, this would actually be reasonable. In reality, however, the "entry tier" pricing is likely to be far above both your needs and your pocketbook, and only the top-tier (not that it'd be published anywhere) getting down anywhere near actual costs - which should themselves be shared with the telco anyway, since the telco's also being paid by the consumer for the same data traffic.

  • by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:11AM (#45886557) Homepage Journal

    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LandDolphin (1202876) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:14AM (#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 (Score:5, Informative)

      by Raumkraut (518382) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:33AM (#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.

      • by neoform (551705)

        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.

      • 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

    • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:47AM (#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!

      • by N1AK (864906)
        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 fundamen
    • IF you start making it to where a company has to pay for the bandwidth of its users

      What article are you reading where any company, AT&T or otherwise, is MAKING IT (changing something) so that you now HAVE to pay for the bandwidth of your users?

      This is a new service, not a replacement for AT&T's existing services. Tomorrow it will still cost at most exactly the same as it did yesterday to reach an AT&T customer. What you now have, however, is an option you can spend money on to make services

  • by PPalmgren (1009823) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:18AM (#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 (Score:4, Informative)

    by DigiWood (311681) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:18AM (#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.

  • Inversion of Control (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Warbothong (905464) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:24AM (#45886643) Homepage

    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.

  • by nimbius (983462) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:30AM (#45886683) Homepage
    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.
    • by bgarcia (33222)
      I think the shift key on your mighty model M is only working sporadically.
    • by compro01 (777531)

      Municipal projects? You mean the ones AT&T, et al are bribing state governments to shut down?

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

  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:36AM (#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.

  • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:40AM (#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.

    • 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!

      • by thaylin (555395)
        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.
        • It was subtle satire. Even if you don't consider the limited availability of spectrum, the cost of blanketing the nation with your own wireless service would be enormous and blows a pretty big hole in the libertarian argument that anyone can start a competing service if they don't like the existing choices.
  • 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 granula

  • My caps off to yah. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by VortexCortex (1117377) <`VortexCortex' ` ... -retrograde.com'> on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:53AM (#45886833) Homepage

    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]

  • by It doesn't come easy (695416) * on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:58AM (#45886871) Journal
    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...
    • 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]

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

    • 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.
  • 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.
    • by djdanlib (732853)

      Unlimited LTE is only useful if you have network service in your area, and their tower deployments have been stalling and stalling and stalling... I have been to areas supposedly served by it, and got 3G speeds from it. NYC intermittently disconnected (although it worked great in one place) and I couldn't even use data in Atlanta! I dunno when they are going to build out a serious network, but as a customer I feel like I've been lied to about the quality of the network.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • by 1gig (102295)

      No even better do like Google and become the ISP Screw AT&T and all the rest of the ISPs and just do it yourself. Lets remember some of these content providers do have Very Deep pockets and the Technical know how to build it themselfs. And as Google is finding out you can make money at it. True maybe not as much as the other buisness but still enough that it pays for itself which is all they care about.

      This is the real threat that AT&T and the others have to worry about at night. And as they continu

  • ...throttling youtube!!!

  • 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.
  • So, instead of increasing prices on the Demand side of wireless data, the carriers are creating new revenue on the Supply (content) side. Sounds logical, but the next step will be data shaping so that sponsored data will get priority over non-sponsored data. The notable exception will be the carriers' media partners (AT&T Wireless has their cousins at U-Verse, Verizon has bundling with COX, etc.). As data caps inevitably drop, you'll be able to stream your CNN and Duck Dynasty, and you'll get your iT

  • It's not a popular idea on Slashdot, but a lot of the problems with sponsored data, Net Neutrality, and data caps could be alleviated by switching to a pay-per-usage plan.

    The text below is something I posted [slashdot.org] on Slashdot a while ago that makes the case for pay-per-usage or per-KB plans.

    The product that the ISPs are providing is network connectivity and downloads. Under the current system, the business (ISP) attempts to limit the amount of product (downloads) that the customer can purchase. When a busine
    • While I like the idea in general, a more accurate mapping of the costs would be to do it like my power/water/gas bills.

      There would be a fixed monthly cost to cover the cost of simply having a line to my house, and then a variable per-GB cost to cover the data consumption.

      In order to ensure fairness we could even follow utility pricing and have a rate review board that would have to approve rate increases. That way a reasonable profit could be ensured, but they'd be disallowed from raking the consumers over

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