AT&T has concocted a new way to deal with the rise of data usage among subscribers: charge app makers and bandwidth-eating services a fee. Those who supported the FCC's net neutrality rules (but publicly demanded stricter legislation on mobile carriers) are saying "I told you so" over this news. In a recent conversation with the Wall Street Journal, AT&T’s senior executive vice president of network and technology John Donovan, said that app makers might choose to pay for data in hopes of bringing in new customers. “It’d be like freight included,” he said.
"A feature that we're hoping to have out sometime next year is the equivalent of 800 numbers that would say, if you take this app, this app will come without any network usage," Mr. Donovan said told the WSJ on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress,
Naturally this has all kinds of implications for service companies such as Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, etc., because not everyone will want to play ball, which in turn might lead AT&T to offer better speeds to those willing to loosen their purse strings. The added costs might also keep companies with innovative apps or services away from devices on AT&T because of the extra costs. Every penny counts when you are the new kid on the block.
Some consumer advocates argue that AT&T's new fees will stifle competition and shift the playing field in the favor of app developers and content providers that have the financial capacity to pay for data use.
"You have to raise all this additional capital to reach the customer or alternatively you have to compete with well-established players who can afford to pay," Harold Feld, legal director for consumer group Public Knowledge, told WSJ.