The FCC Wants More Details from AT&T’s New Sponsered Data Program

January 9, 2014 - Written By Ray Greer

We reported that AT&T has a new idea they announced and it went by the name of “Sponsored Data“, and since its announcement, mixed feelings come in from everyone. Now, one person’s feelings have been brought to light, and his feelings matter more than many of us. This person goes by the name of Tom Wheeler, and he is a Chairman at the FCC.

During his talk at CES 2014, Chairman Wheeler gave his suspicions and said they may need to intervene. “Let’s take a look at what this is, let’s take a look at how it operates.” Wheeler said, “if it interferes with the operation of the internet; that if it develops into an anticompetitive practice; that if it does have some kind of preferential treatment given somewhere, then that is cause for us to intervene.”

This is a great sign from the new Chairman of the FCC, he took the chair in November of 2013, and now has the internet backing him. The concerns Wheeler had, are the same of many people, if AT&T does go through with this plan, it could cause the free aspect of the internet to dwindle. Having the bigger more financially capable companies, pushing the smaller guys out of the way, and possibly affecting things like YouTube, and the like.

Wheeler had plenty more to say about the internet, things like “we are strong supporters of the open internet.” and “you won’t screw up operation of the internet.” Referring to mobile companies and broadband service providers, basically telling them to be careful what they do, or they will have to face the FCC.


Ironically enough, his aggressive yet soft statements may come from his history. Before Tom Wheeler was Chairman at FCC, he was CEO of CTIA, a telecom lobbying group. The room, filled with old co-workers and maybe old friends, may have known him well enough to know how he felt. Wheeler wanted to make sure that everyone knew who the FCC is backing, which is everyone. “We are pro innovation, we are pro competition and we want to protect both.”

All of what was said should be taken with the idea that the program was announced only a few days before Wheeler took the stage. Little research into how the program will work has been done, and so in order for the FCC to make a final decision, they will need to do some research. Until then, Wheeler seems to be the right guy for the job, and will hopefully help keep the internet the way we like it, untouched.