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Data Cap Usage May Be Billed To Developers

United States

If you are a mobile consumer with the data cap blues, good news could be coming your way. AT&T has recently announced a proposal that would see charges for bandwidth passed onto the developers of popular applications, and not the consumers themselves.

Technology news sites are rife these days with horror stories like the father who let his kids stream movies online during a long road trip, only to receive a bill in the thousands of dollars for roaming charges when he arrived back home.

But the new proposal by AT&T could mean that users are able to stream as much as they like after having downloaded an app, without that usage counting toward their monthly data cap.

This will be the reality if the company's new proposal to have bandwidth costs taken on by app developers gains any momentum. But some are saying that this is actually bad news for consumers.

Currently, companies which develop applications for use on mobile phones can realize good revenue by ensuring their app is reliable and reasonably priced. But competition among developers could be stifled if they also have to pay for data usage, as this would require developers have significant finances in place before an application even reaches development stage.

Consumers seem to be largely excited about the possibility of not having to pay for going over their data caps. But the Communications Policy Counsel for Consumers Union thinks there's an ulterior motive.

"Consumers could face limited choices in the app market: While established app makers would be able to comply with this new scheme, new entrepreneurs with great ideas but limited capital could view such a pricing plan as a barrier to reach consumers."

Another opinion is that the proposed billing would actually pave the way for mobile internet providers to 'double-dip'; they would be getting paid for data packages their customers choose, in addition to earning revenue by charging developers to use their network to advertise their apps for download.

With the net neutrality debate on what appears to be a hiatus presently, and because much of the proposed legislation doesn't affect wireless carriers, companies' opportunity to take advantage of the dual-charging scenario could be a very real possibility.

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Ruth Suelemente

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