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FCC is ready to stomp on AT&T’s Sponsored Data dreams

AT&T Sponsored Data FCC

As we noted in an earlier analysis, AT&T’s new Sponsored Data program is a bold move that could end up being an absolute nightmare. With Sponsored Data, AT&T will allow businesses to pay for data consumed by certain apps so that it won’t apply to users’ monthly data limits. While the benefits to marketers and enterprise customers are fairly straight forward (as are the benefits to AT&T), the service also raises a number of concerns and flirts with the hot-button net neutrality issue. AT&T has already drawn fire from one lawmaker and now it looks like the Federal Communications Commission has turned its watchful eye toward the carrier’s new toll-free data program.

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, longtime frenemies AT&T and the FCC may soon have another issue to exchange blows over. While the FCC isn’t stepping in right now, Chairman Tom Wheeler has made it clear that the commission is ready to do so should the need arise. “Make no mistake, we’re ready to intervene,” Wheeler told The Journal. “We want to encourage innovation, with the full capability and legal authority to intervene in those circumstances where there are untoward impacts on competition and consumers.”

But some lawmakers are skipping the wait-and-see stage and moving directly into attack mode. California Congresswoman and net neutrality supporter Anna Eshoo recently said that AT&T’s new program is a huge threat that should be eliminated.

“The announcement of a sponsored data program by AT&T puts it in the business of picking winners and losers on the Internet, threatening the open Internet, competition and consumer choice,” Eschoo said.

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content.

Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment. His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.