AT&T Nailed With FCC Net Neutrality Complaint for FaceTime Data Ban
September 18, 2012 2:13 PM
comment(s) - last by
Advocacies take their case to federal regulators arguing that AT&T is violating current Congressional-empowered mandates
AT&T, Inc. (
) created a mighty brouhaha when it
cut off 3G/4G FaceTime use
for Apple, Inc. (
) iPhone owners on older contracts, including its grandfathered unlimited plans. AT&T was
the only major carrier to do so
Rumor had it that the policy
might be in violation
U.S. Federal Communications Commission
Open Internet mandate
, which blocks mobile carriers from denying new mobile applications access to their networks. Indeed, that complaint has come courtesy of an advocacy trio --
, and the
New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute
Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood remarked in
a press release
, "AT&T’s decision to block FaceTime unless a customer pays for voice and text minutes she doesn’t need is a clear violation of the FCC’s Open Internet rules. It’s particularly outrageous that AT&T is requiring this for iPad users, given that this device isn’t even capable of making voice calls. AT&T's actions are incredibly harmful to all of its customers, including the deaf, immigrant families and others with relatives overseas, who depend on mobile video apps to communicate with friends and family."
While net-neutrality remains a contentious mandate --
particularly among Republicans
who argue that the FCC's regulation hurts the free market -- it does appear that AT&T violated the current rules, passed back in 2010.
AT&T's FaceTime ban has been challenged in a federal complaint. [Image Source: Apple]
Public Knowledge Senior Staff Attorney John Bergmayer comments, "By blocking FaceTime, AT&T is harming its users and holding back mobile innovation. What’s more, its behavior is illegal. When the FCC adopted its Open Internet rules, it guaranteed that mobile users would be protected from such behavior. Public Knowledge intends to follow the process the FCC established to make sure AT&T follows the law."
The filing puts AT&T in a bind, as it may eventually be forced to cave in a precedent-setting reversal.
AT&T, of course, is expected to give a response in the next few days, but there's little it can do at this point to avoid the growing storm of negative publicity.
Public Knowledge [PR]
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
9/18/2012 7:21:13 PM
Yes they can. They can either pay a fee or just wait. Owning a smartphone fee-free isn't some Constitutional right.
This sense of entitlement the Government has cultured and grown in this country is disgusting. The second something happens we don't like, we run to Uncle Sam to make it an act of Congress. No wonder their approval numbers are so low.
9/18/2012 7:50:10 PM
Most people have to pay an ~350 dollar ETF to leave a contract. Given that, most will not readily jump from carrier to carrier, which is what would be needed for free market. Like what you are suggesting. Unhappy with AT&T, switch to Verizon. Oh wait, that'll cost you 350 dollars, plus another 200 for a new phone. Thus, the customer sticks with AT&T and continues paying their monthly bill.
And all the while, innovative and new services/applications are stifled or killed because they're blocked by the carrier.
I can sort of see AT&T's stance with blocking video chat on their old Unlimited plans though. There's potential for abuse, certainly.
"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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