AT&T Introduces "Toll Free" Data Service for Partners

AT&T has launched a “Sponsored Data” service that content or application partners can use in a way similar to “toll free” phone numbers,

With the new Sponsored Data service, data charges for participating apps and services will be billed directly to the sponsoring company, much as Kindle content downloads have been paid for by Amazon, directly to AT&T.

The Sponsored Data program extends that concept, allowing business partners to encourage usage, as mobile customer data plans are not charged for usage.

The Sponsored Data apps and services will be delivered at the same speed and performance as any other content, on a best effort basis, with no packet prioritization.

AT&T believes the program will be attractive for partners in industry verticals including healthcare, retail, media and entertainment and financial services, to encourage sampling of new apps that otherwise might strain data plan allowances, especially video apps such as movie trailers and games.

If users are able to browse mobile shopping sites without incurring data plan charges, that likewise should encourage usage of the sites offering the feature.

For business customers, the feature might be a way to support essential work-related apps without necessarily subsidizing all other consumption.
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