Customers who have AT&T for their wireless service and DirecTV or U-Verse for television will now be able to watch live or recorded shows from a mobile device without eating into their data caps.
The latest plan by AT&T is part of a new trend to keep customers inside of a company’s bundled services. T-Mobile’s Binge On and new unlimited data plans similarly nudge consumers into preferred services with the lure of attractive offers, raising some eyebrows in the process. The FCC has begun to look into the practice, but for now there isn’t anything yet to raise the agency’s ire.
To remain compliant, the companies need to keep using what’s called a zero-rating, which means they don’t charge or throttle competing services on their networks. For example, it would catch the FCC’s attention if AT&T were caught throttling or otherwise interfering with an Xfinity subscription stream over an AT&T network. Such scenarios are what Internet advocates are trying to prevent.
In the meantime, it’s probably a good deal for you. To try out the latest streaming goodies, you’ll need the newest version of the AT&T app from the App Store. The update is set to hit Google Play soon.
The impact on you: Such plans can be a mixed bag. It’s good for your wallet if you’re a subscriber to one of these bundles as it means you’re less likely to exceed your data cap, and you can reap benefits from going all-in with one provider. But with media companies seeking to bundle a wider array of services, keeping the Internet open is going to be a long-term challenge.