AT&T Exempts AT&T-Owned DirecTV App From Mobile Data Caps

Image courtesy of Ángel Raúl Ravelo Rodríguez

DirecTV and AT&T joined up and moved in together just over a year ago. The merged company started launching meager combo offerings soon after, but it’s taken it a while to warm up into the main event. Now, it seems, we’re getting there, because AT&T is about to start taking advantage of its 141 million North American wireless customers when it comes to expanding DirecTV.

How? Through the magic of zero-rating, that thing where an internet company can exempt certain services from data caps that apply to its customers. When you exempt something from a data cap, you create a strong incentive for customers — who hate paying expensive data overage fees — to use that thing more than other things, and that’s what AT&T is doing with DirecTV.

In short: any DirecTV subscriber using the content-streaming app on their AT&T connected mobile device no longer has that data counting against their monthly AT&T data caps.

The Verge spotted the change in the DirecTV app’s latest patch notes. Under the 4.7.013 update, users can see this:

Data Free TV

Now you can stream DIRECTV on your devices, anywhere–without using your data. Now with AT&T.*

*Must stream through App. Requires DIRECTV & AT&T wireless data services. Exclusions apply & may incur data usage. Subject to network management, including speed reduction.

(The Android version of the app is still on version 4.6.101, as of this writing.)

It’s worth noting that though you won’t incur data overage fees from streaming too much DirecTV, the data you use is still, well, data. Stream too much and you’re just as subject to throttling as any other “unlimited” customer.

Meanwhile, this is hardly AT&T’s first dip in the zero-rating pool. The company began swimming around in there with a sponsored data offering that launched in early 2015.

And years in, the FCC is still no closer to determining if zero-rating is entirely kosher or not. Commission chairman Tom Wheeler has stated several times that the FCC is taking a “case-by-case” approach to examine zero-rating. He has also, in the past, called it “innovative” and “highly competitive.” And yet, earlier this year, Wheeler made ISPs come in to explain themselves and their zero-rating plans.

A large coalition of internet businesses and tech activists asked the FCC earlier this year to open a clear public process on zero-rating, but no such rulemaking procedure as yet exists.

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