AT&T to let app-makers pay for user data


Donovan said some companies offering data-heavy apps, like mobile video, have expressed interest in the program.

Harold Feld, legal director of consumer group Public Knowledge, said the plan shows that wireless carriers do not need to use data caps to limit the amount of traffic on their netowrks.

“This new plan is unfortunate because it shows how fraudulent the AT&T data cap is, and calls into question the whole rationale of the data caps.  Apparently it has nothing to do with network management. It's a tool to get more revenue from developers and customers," Feld said.

He said the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should have barred this type of behavior with its net neutrality rules, which it adopted in 2010. The rules prohibit Internet providers from speeding up or slowing down particular websites, but wireless providers were largely exempted from the rules.

Consumer groups argued that without the regulations, Internet providers would be able to slow down or block websites unless they paid a fee.

“This is exactly the type of market manipulation we hoped the FCC’s Open Internet rules would prevent," Feld said, referring to the net neutrality order. "If the Commission does not believe it has the authority under those rules to investigate this practice, it should do so under its general authority over wireless services.”