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The idea is that customers will be more likely to use a company's particular services if the company is picking up the tab

AT&T is open to having some of its customers' 4G data paid for by companies that want to promote their services. 
 
According to a press release from AT&T, the No. 2 carrier in the U.S. will offer a new service called "Sponsored Data," where companies pay for 4G data usage when their services are being used. The idea is that customers will be more likely to use their particular services if the company is picking up the tab. 
 
When Sponsored Data is in effect, customers will see a "sponsored" icon in the status bar, and they won't have to pay a penny for data as long as it remains there. 

 
“Customers love mobile content," said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobility. "Whether it’s shopping, banking, entertainment or personal wellness, mobile content is increasingly available for customers almost anywhere and anytime.   And that’s what makes this a win-win for customers and businesses – customers just look for the Sponsored Data icon and they know the data related to that particular application or video is provided as a part of their monthly service. This is an exciting new opportunity for us and, most importantly, our customers.” 
 
AT&T said there would be no performance differences between normal 4G and Sponsored Data. 
 
The new feature is getting a lot of attention from net neutrality groups like Public Knowledge, which says that carriers shouldn't be in control of what its customers do on the Internet. However, the lack of net neutrality rules for mobile data will allow the feature to roll out. 

Source: AT&T





"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA




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