Is Streaming Busting Your Mobile Data Plan? Now There’s an App for That

Mobile data hogs on data-capped plans have a new option for avoiding massive overage fees if they’ve been bingeing on video, audio, social media, games or other apps.

A new service, Freeway Overpass, gives users on AT&T and Verizon Wireless usage-capped plans the ability to use an unlimited amount of selected data-heavy mobile apps and content by paying a few dollars per month.

To launch Freeway Overpass, Seattle-based Syntonic has lined up content providers including YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, HBO, Twitter, NBC Sports and ESPN for various all-you-can-eat packages. Netflix is the one notable data-hungry app that’s not currently in the Freeway Overpass mix.

The Overpass unlimited data-access options are available for both single apps and bundles of apps, including one-day, week-long, one-month, and three-month options. The offers vary by carrier and operating system, and include free introductory options, sponsored offers and subscription plans.

For example, unlimited Spotify usage starts at 99 cents per week, while the “Basic Bundle” of YouTube, Spotify, Facebook and Instagram will be $2.99 per week. A bundle of music apps including Amazon Music, iHeart Radio, Spotify and SoundCloud is priced at $1.99 per week or $5.99 per month.

Founded in 2013, Syntonic has launched sponsored-data programs internationally. In the U.S., the company is sharing revenue from Freeway Overpass with AT&T and Verizon. Initially, the challenge was trying to persuade U.S. wireless carriers to buy into “a new and disruptive business model,” said Gary Greenbaum, CEO and co-founder of Syntonic. “The carriers see this as incremental revenue.”

True, both AT&T and Verizon have rolled out unlimited-usage plans — spurred by the moves of T-Mobile, whose standard offers are only unlimited plans. (Incidentally, T-Mobile is now including Netflix for no additional charge to family-plan subscribers with at least two lines.)

But many consumers have stuck with cheaper plans that have monthly data limits, and if they blow past those caps the accompanying overage charges can result in sticker shock. Greenbaum touted Freeway Overpass as a “game-changer” for people who aren’t interested in unlimited wireless plans.

“Not everyone is going to pay the hefty tariff for unlimited data,” he said. “This is going to save consumers money.”

Syntonic’s target market for Freeway Overpass is consumers 18-34 who “are consuming an inordinate amount of data,” said chief marketing officer Ben Rotholtz. “We aren’t replacing your data plan. We’re augmenting it.”

The offers vary depending on apps, carrier and device platform — so Syntonic isn’t publishing standardized pricing for all of its unlimited-data options. More than a dozen bundles are available at launch, including:

  • Basic Bundle: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Spotify
  • “Headphones In”: Amazon Music, iHeart Radio, Pandora, Spotify, and SoundCloud
  • “Data Defense”: Sports bundle with ESPN, Facebook, LiveScore, MLB.com Ballpark, MLS, NBA, NBC Sports, Twitter, and Yahoo! Fantasy Sports
  • “Study Break”: Bumble, HBO Now, Instagram, Lyft, Spotify, Starbucks, Tinder, Twitter, Venmo, and YouTube
  • “Backseat Drivers”: “Cut the Rope: Magic,” Disney Junior, Nick Junior, PBS Kids Video, YouTube Kids

It’s worth noting that both AT&T and Verizon will throttle back speeds for customers on data-capped plans after they hit a certain threshold. In that case, “if you’re in a throttled mode, we can’t do anything because of that,” Greenbaum said.

Freeway is available on Apple’s App Store for iPhone and on Google Play for Android devices.

Watch an intro video on Freeway Overpass:

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