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New app uses AT&T's sponsored data to sidestep monthly limits on apps, games, and surfing

New app uses AT&T's sponsored data to sidestep monthly limits on apps, games, and surfing

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Back in January, AT&T announced its "Sponsored Data" program, which lets app developers and brands pick up the tab for data send to your mobile device without it counting towards your monthly data plan. It's a very transparent way for AT&T to make money off companies that can afford to pick up the tab to push products and services to people who might shell out for content on the go. Now AT&T has one of its first examples of how that will be used. A company called Syntonic Wireless plans to use the feature in an app that promises to do many things — from installing apps, to browsing online stores, and eventually streaming video, with none of these things will count towards your data limit, Recode reports. An early version of the software shows access to places like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and Groupon as well.

While there's a consumer side, the app is also a test to see if businesses like these can work. Syntonic plans to watch how people use the app in order to pitch other companies to partner for a place on its sponsored content store. Later on, that could serve as a blueprint to build similar apps that run through AT&T's plan. Syntonic plans to launch the app "later this summer" on Android and iOS, and is taking signups for early adopters in the meantime.

AT&T's Sponsored Data program has drawn plenty of scrutiny from critics who view it as a problem for smaller companies who can't pay the carrier for special access. AT&T is not alone in the effort either. Last month, T-Mobile introduced a program it calls "Music Freedom" that keeps selected music services from going towards monthly data limits. In this case, Syntonic's effort could spell a broader vision that encompasses not just media, but many other things people do on their mobile devices.

Update July 10th, 11:08PM: with additional background.