AT&T Responds to FaceTime Criticism, Says It Did Nothing Wrong
August 22, 2012 12:20 PM
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AT&T claims it didn't violate any FCC rules and that it doesn't HAVE to make any preloaded apps available
Rumors recently started circulating that
AT&T may have violated Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules
by limiting FaceTime availability on Apple's iOS 6. AT&T, likely feeling threatened by possible issues with the feds, has finally responded to these concerns.
Here's a little backstory for those who haven't been keeping up: AT&T recently announced that it would
restrict video chat application FaceTime
, which is preloaded onto Apple's iPhone, to 3G/4G Mobile Share data plans only for the next-generation iPhone. Those with older tiered or unlimited data plans will be excluded. However, all users, no matter the data plan, can use FaceTime over Wi-Fi. This angered customers and watchdog groups, who claimed that AT&T was limiting FaceTime because it was direct competition with its own voice or video telephony services. This was seen as a violation FCC rules (even thought the FCC hasn't declared this yet).
Now, AT&T has offered an explanation. It said that FaceTime has been used over Wi-Fi for years. The company believed it was expanding FaceTime's availability by now offering it on AT&T Mobile Share data plans in addition to Wi-Fi, and mentioned that no FCC rules regulate availability of preloaded apps to customers.
AT&T added that there are only two FCC rules for carriers: make business practices and information transparent, and don't block applications that may compete with their own. According to AT&T, it has violated neither.
"AT&T's plans for FaceTime will not violate either requirement," said the company in a statement. "Our policies regarding FaceTime will be fully transparent to all consumers, and no one has argued to the contrary. There is no transparency issue here.
"Nor is there a blocking issue. The FCC's net neutrality rules do not regulate the availability to customers of applications that are preloaded on phones. Indeed, the rules do not require that providers make available
preloaded apps. Rather, they address whether customers are able to download apps that compete with our voice or video telephony services. AT&T does not restrict customers from downloading any such lawful applications, and there are several video chat apps available in the several app stores serving particular operating systems.
"I won't name any of them for fear that I will be accused by these same groups of discriminating in favor of those apps. But just go to your app store on your device and type 'video chat.'"
AT&T further added that it does not have a competing video chat service; hence that was not the reason for
limiting FaceTime to Mobile Share data plans
. The real reason, according to the carrier, is that the expansion of FaceTime to data plans instead of just Wi-Fi could strain the network, so it just limited to the Mobile Share data plans.
However, this will likely still upset customers who are paying for data and expect that AT&T won't restrict what they access when paying for such services. If you're paying a pretty penny each month for data (and we all know data isn't cheap), it doesn't seem unreasonable to expect the carrier to build up its network to handle additional bandwidth.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
8/22/2012 8:35:28 PM
So AT&T's argument is that essentially blocking access to Facetime while on their network doesn't violate Net Neutrality rules because Facetime is preloaded/baked into the OS rather than downloaded?
Yeah... that's just dumb. They're blocking the functionality of an app with a weak excuse that it'll overload their network. Hello, AT&T, once you went to data caps you can't use that excuse for shit anymore. If people are using too much data, you charge them extra. Use that extra income to build out the network. If people aren't actually using too much data, then you're just full of it.
The only real reason for them to block Facetime on their network is because they're afraid people will use it in place of making phone calls and they'll lose money as people downgrade their voice plans. Which sure as hell is a violation of Net Neutrality rules.
"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook
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