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AT&T has no qualms about blaming partner Apple for app rejections

Under investigation by the Federal Communications Commission, AT&T has passed the blame for the Google Voice application rejection on to partner Apple.  According to AT&T's spokesperson, "AT&T does not manage or approve applications for the App Store. We have received the letter and will, of course, respond to it."

The FCC has demanded that Apple and AT&T explain the process by which applications are rejected.  In particular its asking what contractual conditions or non-contractual understandings with AT&T influence app store rejections. 

The government also asked, "Does AT&T have any role in the approval of iPhone applications generally (or in certain cases)? If so, under what circumstances, and what role does it play? What roles are specified in the contractual provisions between Apple and AT&T (or any non-contractual understandings) regarding the consideration of particular iPhone applications?"

The insinuation by AT&T, though, that it plays no part in app store policing and that regulation is solely the work of Apple is flat out false, though.  AT&T previously ordered Apple to force Slingbox to operate over WiFi only.  AT&T had stated:
Slingbox, which would use large amounts of wireless network capacity, could create congestion and potentially prevent other customers from using the network. The application does not run on our 3G wireless network. Applications like this, which redirect a TV signal to a personal computer, are specifically prohibited under our terms of service. We consider smartphones like the iPhone to be personal computers in that they have the same hardware and software attributes as PCs.
Steve Jobs also noted during a Q&A session that AT&T is actively policing voice-over-IP apps.  He stated that AT&T is the reason why apps like Skype are WiFi only.  In the end it appears that despite its claims of innocence, AT&T may play more of a role in iPhone app policing than it admits.

The finger pointing by AT&T does illustrate increasing tension between the two companies.  Apple took a number of apparent snipes at AT&T during its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote address, where it introduced the new iPhone 3G S.


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RE: Why is the FCC involved?
By masteraleph on 8/4/2009 8:31:31 PM , Rating: 2
The FCC is involved not because of Apple but because of AT&T. If Apple for some random reason chooses to block, say, Skype over 3G, that's fine; maybe it destabilizes the iphone or something.

That's not the issue here, though. The issue is that ISPs aren't allowed to prevent competitors' programs from using their bandwidth or to favor their own products (for example, if Time Warner Cable offered a computer app that gave you automatic sports scores, they couldn't throttle bandwidth for or prevent an ESPN equivalent).

Now, if AT&T is an ISP in this case (unclear, though this may actually apply to all companies under the FCC's jurisdiction), then they may not be allowed to prevent Skype or Google Voice from being installed on an iPhone and using 3G. That is what the FCC is trying to find out- whether or not AT&T has any say over what's installed on the iPhone. If they do then this may be an illegal restriction on a competitor's product.


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