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A collection of public-interest groups has decided to take AT&T (NYSE:T) to court for the wireless operator’s decision to limit access to Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) FaceTime video chat feature on its network. While Apple announced that the feature would now be available on 4G LTE networks instead of just Wi-Fi, AT&T said it won’t permit FaceTime on its data network.
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The group told AT&T on Tuesday it planned to file a complaint with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission within the next two weeks for alleged violation of Open Internet rules. “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,” Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood said in a press release. “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.”
AT&T denied violating any rules with its decision in a blog post last month, saying FCC’s regulations “do not regulate the availability to customers of applications that are preloaded on phones.”
It also decided that certain users who are signed up for the new Family Share plans or those plans that charge extra for heavy data use may be allowed access to the app. In contrast, rivals Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and Sprint (NYSE:S) have said they would allow the app and simply count data usage against the subscriber’s monthly allotment.
FaceTime uses more bandwidth than voice calls and users don’t have to spend any voice minutes while using it.
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