Open Internet Groups Slap AT&T in the FaceTime

Carrier's decision to limit Apple's video chat to its shared-data plans has earned the wrath of advocacy groups that plan to formally complain to the FCC

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

September 18, 2012

2 Min Read
Open Internet Groups Slap AT&T in the FaceTime

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) dismissed what it called knee-jerk reactions to its plan to limit Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s FaceTime to its Mobile Share data plan users, but several groups are taking their complaints all the way to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) . (See AT&T Reserves 4G FaceTime for Data Sharers.)

Free Press , Public Knowledge and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute have now officially warned the wireless operator that they plan to file a formal complaint with the FCC in the coming weeks.

Both Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and Verizon Wireless have confirmed FaceTime will be free of charge on all their data plans.

But, AT&T is taking a different route. The carrier said in July that all its customers will be able to use FaceTime over Wi-Fi as they always have been, but to use it over the cellular network with iOS 6 they would have to subscribe to a Mobile Share data plan. The carrier's regulatory chief, Bob Quinn, addressed net neutrality concerns, calling them wrong, in a blog post last month. (See AT&T Plays FaceTime Defense and AT&T Joins Verizon in the Shared Data Pool.)

What AT&T and the advocacy groups are fighting over is the FCC's Open Internet rules, published in 2010, that state that mobile broadband service providers cannot block apps that compete with their own voice or video telephony services. AT&T's argument is that since FaceTime is preloaded, it has different restrictions from downloadable apps, to which the groups collectively say, "Phooey."

"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," Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood wrote in a statement. "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."

The FCC requires groups to give 10 days' notice when they plan to file a complaint. AT&T has yet to respond to the warning.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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