The second largest cellular carrier in the US, AT&T, recently announced plans for a service that will allow app developers and other content providers to pay the carrier for the data usage of their app. AT&T says that this is equivalent to the service that is in place with toll free 1-800 numbers for businesses. This would be ideal for streaming audio and video services such as Netflix that could quickly eat through your bandwidth allotments, and with the widespread rollout of LTE, these limits could be reached at ever increasing rates.
In the scheme, the purchase of an app would include data usage and therefore not impact on the user’s own data usage. Although this sounds good in theory, it is likely that these costs will be passed on to the consumer as developers are unlikely to absorb the costs of data plans. It is thought though that larger companies such as Netflix could negotiate a better data plan from the carriers and could pass these savings on to the consumer. From the comments left on the Engadget and BGR sites about this, smaller developers are none too keen to jump on this bandwagon, as most see it as a cash grab by the carrier. The big three carriers in Canada have not announced any plans for a similar scheme here, but I am sure that they will be looking on with great interest.