Earlier this week, when AT&T announced that they are starting a new Sponsored Data program, a lot of eyebrows were raised. What at first sounded like an interesting new way for companies to get their content to consumers quickly came under fire from around the industry for the potential to be anti-competitive. The FCC has even taken notice, saying that they are ready to act if this Sponsored Data turns out bad.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was quoted at CES on the subject, ”My attitude is: let’s take a look at what this is, let’s take a look at how it operates.” He went on to promise that if the initiative was indeed anti-competitive, the FCC would be ready to intervene.
The problem with AT&T’s Sponsored Data comes when companies have the power to promote a certain application by providing free data and downloads over other competing applications. Companies and developers with the most money could easily sit at the top of download charts because their price has been pre-paid. Luckily for consumers it sounds like the FCC is watching to make sure this does not happen.
Are you a fan of Sponsored Data or fear that it will hurt more than help?