AT&T's Sponsored Data plan could be anticompetitive says FCC chief Wheeler
Before you get charged up offer this idea, we need to point a few things out. First of all, if you have Wi-Fi at home, use it. Check for a Wi-Fi connection wherever you go. You will be surprised at the places you visit that have it available, like McDonald's for instance. But we digress. The real reason not to get terribly stoked about AT&T's plan is because of three letters: FCC.
The chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, told a crowd at CES on Wednesday that the plan could be anticompetitive, favoring apps that have a lot of money behind it to pay for the data used by consumers. Wheeler said that the FCC is pro-innovation and pro-competition. Still, when it comes to AT&T's Sponsored Data Plan, Wheeler said that his agency is ready to intervene if it proves to un-level the playing field.
Other areas of discussion at CES included the FCC's decision to seek comments from the public on the plan to allow phone calls on flights. Wheeler would like to see a ban on calls, but not on use of the internet during flights. Not that he is worried about planes falling out of the sky because passengers are playing Words with Friends 30,000 feet in the air. His concern is that with passengers allowed to make calls on their phone, an airplane would become too noisy for those passengers looking to relax or sleep during a flight.
Wheeler also touched on the upcoming spectrum auctions being held by the FCC. The agency is trying to get television broadcasters to sell off to the government the spectrum they own, so that it can be included as part of the spectrum being auctioned of to mobile operators.