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Advocacies take their case to federal regulators arguing that AT&T is violating current Congressional-empowered mandates

AT&T, Inc. (T) created a mighty brouhaha when it cut off 3G/4G FaceTime use for Apple, Inc. (AAPL) 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 of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's 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 -- Free PressPublic Knowledge, 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.

FaceTime
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.

Source: Public Knowledge [PR]



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RE: Good
By amanojaku on 9/18/2012 9:06:12 PM , Rating: 2
Sigh...
quote:
You know what, I think it's unfair that Wendy's charges me .36 cents for an extra slice of cheese when other places don't. Would you support a bill mandating that all burger places be regulated under the Cheese Neutrality Act? Probably!
Poor analogy. What AT&T is doing is more like Wendy's forcing you to buy cheese when you decide to eat in. The tables and chairs are part of the service, just like FaceTime is part of your data plan. Anyone who goes over their monthly data allocation pays overage fees.
quote:
It's not so much that Net Neutrality isn't a novel goal, but how anyone can think placing the Internet and Cellular services under FCC control is a good idea is beyond me. In the end this will hurt competition and free market mechanisms, and just lead to higher prices for consumers.
Perhaps you missed the bit where AT&T is forcing people to buy services that have nothing to do with FaceTime? AT&T customers are already paying higher prices; the FCC's actions will prevent this. Data is data, it doesn't matter if it's FaceTime or FTP. If consumers use more data, they pay for more data. They shouldn't be forced to buy voice and text. There are similar laws preventing this kind of abuse for many other types of businesses.


"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer














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