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AT&T making plans to let mobile app developers pay users' data fees

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AT&T says it is planning to introduce a new method of billing that would let developers pay subscribers' fees for data used on their mobile app.

Gallery Photo: Samsung Galaxy Note for AT&T hands-on photos
Gallery Photo: Samsung Galaxy Note for AT&T hands-on photos

AT&T is apparently planning a new system that would shift the charges for data use from subscribers to app developers. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, AT&T network and technology head John Donovan said that the company is looking to create a form of "toll-free calling" for mobile apps in which companies would pay for users' data charges on a specific application.

"A feature that we're hoping to have out sometime next year is the equivalent of 800 numbers that would say, if you take this app, this app will come without any network usage," said Donovan, suggesting that companies would want to pay for usage in order to entice users to make in-app media purchases without worrying about the mobile equivalent of shipping fees. Especially on LTE, which eats up data quickly, the plan would be a way to increase total revenue from data charges without subscribers seeing a bigger bill. Or, as Donovan puts it, "why don't we go create new revenue streams that don't exist today and find a way to split them?"