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Data caps be damned, AT&T says providers can pay for mobile broadband

Carrier acknowledges data caps hurt internet business

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AT&T has unveiled a scheme which will allow web service providers to pay for the data bandwidth customers use.

The company said that its Sponsored Data service will bill content providers, rather than customers, for the broadband data consumed by a service. Any content accessed via the service will not be counted towards a user's wireless data cap.

AT&T believes that the plan will help to expand the use of web services on its 4G wireless broadband network by removing the worry customers have of using up their plan's allocated wireless data quota.

"Customers love mobile content. Whether it's shopping, banking, entertainment or personal wellness, mobile content is increasingly available for customers almost anywhere and anytime," said AT&T Mobility CEO and president Ralph de la Vega.

"And that’s what makes this a win-win for customers and businesses – customers just look for the Sponsored Data icon and they know the data related to that particular application or video is provided as a part of their monthly service."

If adopted by site operators, AT&T stands to benefit from the sponsored data plan as well. In shifting the cost over to site and service operators, the company will be able to offer more wireless broadband content without taking a hit to its own bottom line.

Such a move flies also helps bypass network neutrality principles which rule that carriers should provide not preferential network access or bandwidth based on the service or platform being accessed by customers. While still hotly debated, officials in the US have in recent months relaxed their attitudes on neutrality, particularly over the sale of bandwidth for demanding media-streaming services.

Amidst the fight for customer attentions, AT&T is also courting developers to take more interest in its multimedia services. The company on Monday said that it would be providing Android developers with a set of APIs to interact with its U-Verse home television service.

The APIs will allow developers to link their web applications and services to the U-Verse platform, enabling customers to have access through their TV sets via the U-Verse interface.®

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