Verizon will begin testing sponsored data in the next few days.
Verizon Executive Vice President Marni Walden told Re/Code Verizon now has the capabilities to “break down any byte that is carrier across our network and have all or a portion of that sponsored.”
As part of its testing, Verizon is reportedly working with just a few partners, but the feature will be available to everyone at an affordable price in 2016.
It was just last year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas that AT&T made the announcement that it would be looking into sponsored data.
Not long thereafter, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he would be keeping a careful eye on the practice.
At the time, Wheeler said that the pracitce could lead to increased competition and efficiency and should not be prohibited out of hand. But he also acknowledged that there could be some hidden problems with sponsored data.
AT&T’s Jim Cicconi, senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs, said in a blog post last year that the service is aimed solely at benefitting customers and assured that the program is voluntary and non-exclusive.
“It is an offering by that company, not by AT&T. We simply enable it. The bottom line is that this can save money for our customers. We see no reason why this is not a good thing,” Cicconi wrote at the time.
The idea of ad-supported data has been talked about for a long time but carriers in the United States have struggled to figure out a way to implement and manage such a program, primarily due to the technical challenges involved.