AT&T’s controversial “Sponsored Data” plan, originally unveiled in January, has been billed as both a cause for concern and a potential boon for consumers, but in the months following the announcement, not a single high-profile company has joined the pilot program. Re/code reports that AT&T has added several smaller names to the program since then, but what could have been a landmark partnership for the the program, Prime Data on Amazon’s Fire Phone, never came to fruition.
In the meantime, Syntonic Wireless, a Seattle startup, has been working on a sponsored data store that will help users find apps that won’t count towards their data plans. The store is currently in pre-beta and will be released on Android phones, tablets and iOS devices.
Syntonic CEO Gary Greenbaum says everyone is working on some variation of a sponsored data program. He believes that businesses might soon pay for free access to work sites for their employees, along with schools and health insurers for relevant content of their own.
“It’s very clear how you can connect the dots of growing revenue without [incurring] significant costs,” Greenbaum said. “All the operators have things in the works that are variations on the theme.”
Shortly after AT&T announced sponsored data, NPD Group analyst Eddie Hold proclaimed that “an A list of sponsors will be key to turning this potentially interesting service into success.” Until those A-list sponsors join the program, Syntonic’s sponsored data store is going to be sorely lacking in content.