Putting aside the net neutrality concerns of AT&T's recently announced Sponsored Data solution, Lejla Maric, director of TV and media engagement practice at Ericsson, said she believes the idea is here to stay.
"We believe [this will catch on], because obviously it's a new way for operators to engage with the content providers," Maric said. "I mean it's a totally different revenue position...usually they make revenue from the end user or subscribers. We've had a lot of visitors at CES at our booth, asking us to present a solution. So I believe it's something that it's time for operators to engage a little beyond the traditional business model."
AT&T worked closely with Ericsson to develop its Sponsored Data solution, which was announced this week at the International CES.
The actual feature that allows for certain bits and bytes to be subsidized is a feature that's been built atop Ericsson's Multiservice Proxy, a network node that allows operators to control and manage data traffic.
"It's a solution that's being utilized to kind of figure out what the sponsored data is, if the content provider is on board for the service...pretty much the entire logic is run through an Ericsson product," Maric explained.
While the Multiservice Proxy has been around for some time, Maric says AT&T's solution is unique.
"AT&T's is really our first customer when it comes to the actual toll-free data, which is the name that Ericsson uses for this solution," Maric says.
Regulators and some consumer-rights groups have taken issue with the fact that AT&T's Sponsored Data will not initially support prepaid users. Maric said that's a policy decision that AT&T will have to make and is not a limitation of the technology.