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AT&T Announces Sponsored Data Service, Free Connectivity for Users

AT&T has announced its new Sponsored Data service, which will allow retailers, health care providers and other public organizations to offer customers and clients  to connect to LTE data for free. The program, which comes online this year, essentially gives AT&T users access to a Wi-Fi hotspot running on AT&T's 4G LTE network. Rather than requiring users to pay for connecting to the hotspot, however, the participating companies will be billed for their customer's data usage.

That means if you're in a store, and the retailer wants you to check for deals on their app, you can connect your phone to their network and browse the app for free. AT&T says the Sponsored Data will be available with the same speed and performance as any non-Sponsored Data content. 

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“Customers love mobile content. Whether it’s shopping, banking, entertainment or personal wellness, mobile content is increasingly available for customers almost anywhere and anytime. 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,” said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobility during a press conference at CES 2014. “This is an exciting new opportunity for us and, most importantly, our customers.”

AT&T pictures its service helping companies promote movie trailers or games, provide patient healthcare support via wellness videos and encourage customers to browse mobile shopping sites. The service could also allow businesses with Bring Your Own Device policies to pay for the data employees use for specific business-related apps and services and to enhance customer loyalty programs by providing sponsored data access to products and services.