AT&T CEO says 'toll free' data plans coming soon

Bummed over tiered data pricing? AT&T's Randall Stephenson tells conference goers that content providers are willing to pay for customers' access.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson Stephen Shankland/CNET

If tiered data pricing is stopping you from downloading to your heart's content, AT&T says there may be a solution.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said content providers want to pay for consumer access, which means "toll free'' data plans are a likely development in the next 12 months, FierceWireless reported today.

Stephenson said the plans would exclude certain types of content from counting toward a customer's monthly data allotment. He made the statement at an investor conference.

Customers are starting to avoid some data-heavy content in response to tiered data pricing, and Stephenson's theory is content providers who want mobile dollars are willing to pay for consumers' access.

Stephenson said AT&T is already "getting those phone calls," from content providers, FierceWireless said.

Consumers are more aware of the data they are consuming on their mobile devices thanks to caps and other limits that have been placed on them. Those looking to avoid overage charges or a slowdown in the network connection need to better budget their data use. The notion of "toll-free" data would be one way to spur them to use a particular service.

Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile have also said they were considering offering toll free data plans, but haven't made any commitments to plans yet.

In his talk, Stephenson also spoke the future of data plans in general, including data-only plans and the company's move toward a family data plan that would allow consumers to buy one bucket of data to share among several devices.

 

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