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Is AT&T Planning to Change the Way They Bill For Data Usage?

AT&T is looking for new ways to increase revenue from their smartphone, tablet and other bandwidth hogging device users.

Because there is a of a lack of uniformity with wireless networks and a growing popularity for bandwidth-consuming mobile applications (Apps), AT&T might have found a way to charge app developers that offer heavy bandwidth usage apps for the using their cellular network data, rather than charging the customer. They compare this to an 800 number service where the consumer would not be billed for data being used for the specified app., but the provider, or in this case, app developers/internet companies would pay for data usage.

The mobile phone industry in the U.S. is shifting from unlimited usage bundled packages to a tiered service offering in which the customer must pay more for the amount of data they use and any overages that are incurred every pay cycle. With the growth in popularity of movie and TV streaming on mobile devices subscribers might be willing to use more apps that are not going to count against their monthly bill.

There are some obvious concerns that have been raised, especially for app developers, such as if companies would have incentives to cover the network charges and how the revenue and services would be split amongst companies like AT&T. There is also the concern of innovation being stifled because of the new fees, smaller start-up’s might not be able to cover the cost of consumer data usage. It is seen as an unfair way of getting companies to pay for the data usage that consumers are already paying for, hence doubling up on their revenue with the guise of giving the consumers a deal to get them to jump on the bandwagon.

(Photo Courtesy of: PhilCampbell)

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