Is AT&T Breaking the RULES?
AT&T (NYSE:T) said last week that it would only let customers of its shared data plans use Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) FaceTime video chatting feature over its cellular network, not customers who have unlimited or tiered data plans. However, according to Public Knowledge, a nonprofit group that focuses on Internet law, AT&T could be violating net-neutrality rules set by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission with that limitation.
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John Bergmayer, a lawyer at Public Knowledge, said AT&T was violating the FCC’s Open Internet Rules that ask mobile providers to not “block applications that compete with the provider’s voice or video telephony” services. “There is no technical reason why one data plan should be able to access FaceTime and another not,” Bergmayer said in a statement, according to the New York Times.
AT&T insists it is blameless because FaceTime would still be available over Wi-Fi. “FaceTime is available to all of our customers today over Wi-Fi, and we’re now expanding its availability even further as an added benefit of our new Mobile Share data plans,” AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel told NYT.
iPhone customers will have the option to use FaceTime video chatting over cellular networks when Apple releases the next version of its mobile operating system, iOS 6, this fall.
The FCC said on Monday it had not prepared a comment on the matter. The regulatory body recently settled with Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) after investigations found the wireless provider had asked Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) to block apps that allow a smartphone to share its Internet connection with other devices.
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