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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 Fujikoma on 9/19/2012 7:42:53 AM , Rating: 2
AT&T didn't single handedly build their infrastructure. The U.S. governement has dumped quite a bit of money into laying fibre optic cables and helping telecoms in other areas. Who do you think watches over the switching stations... rent-a-cops? You think all the telcos eat the cost of launching a satellite or even the cost of that satellite? Who pays for the roads to their offices? Who pays for the education of their workers?
AT&T is bound by the law. That wonderful govenerment interference you don't like keeps your water and air cleaner, prevents companies from unilaterally screwing their workers over, providing safer work environments, eliminating child/slave labor and a host of other things.
As to your ignorant comment about the other companies picking up the slack... it's clearly the position of large dominant corporations to work in collusion (be it music, computer components, gas... to inflate margins). They would follow suit because there is money to be made. Why do you think ALL of them charge for personal texting when it uses less bandwidth than talking.


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