AT&T announces new Sponsored Data plan for companies to help you save some data

AT&T held its Developer Summit today, announcing a new Sponsored Data plan. Senior executive John Donovan took to the stage to reveal new options for businesses to pay AT&T on behalf of consumers when utilising the network to stream content, be it video, app data or even general website browsing.

This would enable consumers to access certain parts of the web without worrying about data caps and charges. Head on past the break for all the details.

How would this be useful for companies in the real world? Think of it as a free way for employees to access work-related content on their smartphones, but not footing the bills themselves. This would enable companies to throw up websites and multimedia you could access without having it counting towards your own account.

ATT Sponsored Data

For example, a video game publisher could throw up a trailer for a new game. You could view said video on your smartphone, but have said publisher fork out for the data usage. Or a data-intensive app like on-demand video footing the bill for previews, thanks to your monthly subscription with them.

It's a neat way to save consumers some data when using the web, especially with tight data cap restrictions. The only potential problem with this new option is how other companies and publishers foot the bill and how potential costs are passed on to consumers (if at all). That, and you're only eligible should you have an active data plan and a 4G device (be it smartphone, hub, tablets, etc).

Still, it's a superb concept if deployed and used effectively by companies and we're sure consumers would enjoy seeing such practices in place to save them some data and/or money.

Be sure to remain tuned to our feed (as well as our sister websites) for all the latest news to come out of CES 2014. Head on over to the AT&T website (opens in new tab) for more details.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • I'll reserve judgment until I try it.
  • Same here if anyone like the companys actually use this
  • It will raise the cost of the services we use if they buy into this deal. This is only shifting the address the bill is sent from to make ATT look better.
  • ^This
  • I agree. AT&T shows it's slimy face once again.
  • I'm on the fence about this.  Yes, it's freedom of choice, but lets say Netflix does it, people can stream all they want from Netflix, but not Amazon?  Amazon will follow suit, and so will Hulu, and so on.  The issue then becomes "No, I won't use the stream because it uses my data." then stifiling the little guy out of streaming.  Not to say is the little guy, but I don't think they can pay the Sponsored Data plan, whatever the cost.
  • Exactly, this would create an oligopoly in the internet World.
  • My fear as well. All the big established players will start falling head over heels to foot the bill for their users, just to drum up business, meaning the smaller players and the startups will be left out in the cold.
  • So are they doing away with there, if you work for this company you save 15% or 20% or what ever it is?
  • If they do I will sell all my AT&T products and move to TMobile, even if it means the sacrifice of WP.
  • Whoa, why would you sell them all? If you can get them unlocked, they will work on T-Mobile.
  • Because ATT don't use the same LTE bands
  • Unless I am mistaken, both carriers use band 4.
  • This is just them saying, for instance, that Netflix could potentially pay for your data usage when streaming Netflix on your phone. It doesn't have anything to do with corporate partner discounts for AT&T customers.
  • Didn't this idea get tossed around with Xbox viewing of Verizon content?
  • I wish I had att I'm stuck with TMobil
  • I can't be the only one who glanced at the title and saw AT&T announces support for Data Sense.
  • Nope. I felt like that too.
  • Your website will be available after the 7 short video ads.
  • Looks like everyone is a cynical as I am about this.
  • This is a huge slap in the face to net neutrality. What AT&T is doing is offering (or selling) large service providers the ability to become even larger and dominate their market while imposing even more challenges to smaller providers and websites. If Pandora will let me stream music for free, it makes it look a lot more attractive against similar services. Similarly, if a new service like Fox News has free data via their app, it looks a lot more attractive versus another news app that doesn't, or even the plain old Web.
  • I couldn't care less for net neutrality if this is how it works out. This is great. It's when it goes in the other direction that I have a problem. If another company wants to compete, they too can pay AT&T.
  • All this will do is make the services cost more, you'll be paying for it one way or another.  This is just AT&T trying to get paid from both the provider and the consumer (since you'll still be paying for your data plan to access sites that aren't willing to pay them).
  • Also correct.
  • Yes, if a company is big enough, it can afford to pay AT&T. Unfortunately, those companies are the ones that are big that people already know. This leaves little room for other competitors who may offer a better service to compete but can't pay into this program. Small companies already have a hard time getting noticed, and this moves competition further away from having the best product to a pay to play scenario, which will kill a lot of newcomers. Less players is bad for us, no matter how much we save in the short term. None of this is guaranteed, but a likely situation given, well, AT&T. I would be shocked ifVerizon didn't follow suit.
  • Towers are a little different than wires in the ground.
  • This is exactly the opposite of net neutrality, I'm glad you brought it up. It seems like a great idea both for companies and users, but the hidden collateral effect is that eventually our data allowance will go down (since many companies will be giving us free data) and thus we won't be able to benefit from services provided by other companies or developers. As a website owner, this fucking sucks because eventually visiting my site will be more expensive for my users than visiting another site. Sorry, let me pay for my own damn data, it's not that expensive and it doesn't create an unfair business model.
  • "As a website owner, this fucking sucks because eventually visiting my site will be more expensive for my users than visiting another site." YES, this is the motivation for this. The megarcorporations have always despised the equal nature of the internet on the client side - it's as easy for me to go to a homebrew site as it is to go to They hate this, and now they are trying to make it much more expensive for me to use the non-conglomerate Internet. DO NOT BUY IT.  
  • Ads in searches do more damage to your point of time vs little news guy, than my site loading too slow.
  • I think you're missing the point.
  • I don't like this idea. AT ALL!!!
  • There are no free rides. You will pay, you are the consumer, you pay for everything. You pay for the costs of production, you pay for the taxes, you pay for the charitable donations, you pay for the name it, if its part of a companies cost of doing business, you the consumer pay for it. And that's the way it is. And if its a gov. program, you pay until you drop dead.
  • If there is a benefit, dont see much.  Unless it reduces my bill which it doesnt.  In the end, we will pay for it somehow, that is what carriers do right?  Take our money!
  • What they need to do is create data rollover. I always have unused data that is lost. I don't give a squat about this.
  • Yes... THIS^^^ On months where I'm @ home a lot, I save it up. Then, when I go on vacation, I have a lot built up to use.
  • Wow, net neutrality much?
  • This is basically just a clever way of getting around net neutrality by changing a "must do" to an "opt in". On the surface it seems attractive but it's a very slippery slope with the huge potential to be abused (not like the carriers ever do that).
  • Here in Brazil most carriers allow us to use Twitter and Facebook using free data. You can surf for as long as you wish. If you tap a link in Twitter, for example, it says that data will be charged once you open the link. Is this the same thing as this post say?
  • They have that in Australia too. Free/unmetered Facebook & Twitter data
  • Dose these free data apply to facebook/twitter app? Or even you use safari/chrome to view it's still free?
  • It works both ways: you can use the apps or open the sites through your internet browser of choice. I can browse Twitter using LTE for free and it won't waste my data. It's quite handy, if you ask me.
  • STOP THIS NOW before it's reality. It's a step on the way to all bundling, all the time. Soon you'll need a subscription to every major conglomerate-websajt in order to view content, unless you want it counted towards your miniscule allowance. was just the beginning with its cable-tv requirement, soon others followed, and now mobile data wants in too. DON'T BUY IT.
  • Nice way for AT&T to double-dip. Consumers only save if they move down to a smaller data plan (which will probably be more expensive on a per-bit basis). Oh, and then you risk a nice $10 overage penalty.
  • While at first glance this might look like a good deal from a consumer's standpoint, it is essentially allowing AT&T to be able to make the gate swing both ways.  They have been trying, along with a host of other ISPs, to be able to charge content providers like Netflix and Youtube for using their cable or in this case, LTE.  This is a first step towards that goal, just wrapped up all pretty-like to fool everyone.  But open it up, and a pretty terrible thing for everyone emerges.
  • The idea of "This part of Internet is free" and "this part will cost you (data)" makes me think we're headed for a consumer internet model similar to local calling vs long distance calling in the traditional consumer telephone world.  "This part of Internet is free, and this part will cost you!" - that will certainly re-shape traffic patterns with consumers, if you ask me.  I guess we'll see.
  • ATT... brought to you by Carl's Jr.