The high-end smartphone that internet giant Amazon plans to launch later this spring will likely come with sponsored LTE data from U.S. operator AT&T, according to reports. While few details have been released, the plan, which will be called Amazon Prime Data, would allow AT&T customers to stream Amazon’s content—TV, movies and music—over their Amazon smartphones, without it counting against their LTE data allotments.
While Amazon’s upcoming smartphone is rumored to have many game-changing advanced features such as a 3-D effects and gesture-based interface options, the real draw for users may well be the free data for access to Amazon’s high-data-consumption branded entertainment offerings. Amazon has followed this strategy before: It has always offered free 3G data for its Kindle readers, and in 2012 it offered 250 MB of LTE data per month for the Kindle Fire HD device for an annual fee of $50. In short, the company realizes that access to data is what the its content business hinges on, and it is willing to do a deal with a major mobile operator to get it. Providing consumers with data opens the door for Amazon—and other similar internet-based entities—to charge consumers for the actual content.
From the point of view of mobile operators, this development, if it actually goes through and proves successful, would constitute yet another piece of evidence that partnering with large entities like Amazon will be an increasingly attractive option for revenue generation. And considering that the FCC, a U.S. regulatory agency, is expected to soften its net neutrality restrictions in the new rules that will be announced on 15 May, the climate is likely favorable to the proliferation of special-access data arrangements between operators and content providers.