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AT&T Taken to Task Over FaceTime Blocking

Article Comments  39  

Sep 18, 2012, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   @phonescooper

Public interest groups, including Free Press, Public Knowledge, and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, have indicated to AT&T that they will file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission over AT&T's FaceTime over cellular policies. AT&T said last month that it will not allow iOS 6 devices to connect FaceTime video chats over its 3G/4G cellular networks unless those customers subscribe to its mobile share data plans. FaceTime video chats can still be conducted for free over Wi-Fi. AT&T defended this decision by suggesting that FaceTime is a preloaded app and thereby not subjet to the FCC's net neutrality rules regarding third-party app blocking. AT&T also believes that its "open and transparent" policy exempts it from net neutrality stipulations. The public interest groups disagree, and believe AT&T is violating net neutrality 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," said Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood. "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." Sprint and Verizon Wireless customers will be able to make FaceTime calls over cellular networks as well as via Wi-Fi without incurring extra fees.

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Sep 18, 2012, 9:20 AM

Freedom to switch

I mostly don't like AT&T's rules and policy's, and I actually work for Sprint (which may be a mistake saying that here, i know how many of you hate sprint), but i feel that if you don't like something a carrier is doing, and you dont like their plans....SWITCH!

Its not like they are blocking it, they are just making you get a compatible plan. They cant just keep offering you more and more at the same price. I feel people are too quick to jump on the "my cellular company is trying to screw me..." bandwagon.
Right. This isn't like the throttling unlimited customers argument from months back. They should be able to utilize their network how they want (without violating customer agreements). If we don't like it, we should switch. There's 2 companies offerin...
"Compatible" has nothing to do with it. Facetime is "compatible" with a data connection. This is an arbitrary demand for a specific rate plan to use an app which only requires a normal Internet connection.

"Free to switch" is BS in an industry wh...
T Bone

Sep 18, 2012, 9:36 AM

Does anyone actually use Facetime?

If so...why? Why use a closed, nonstandard platform which only works on Apple hardware when you can use Skype which is 100% open and works on any hardware? To use Facetime requires you to keep track of who among your friends and family uses Apple hardware...and then if they don't, you're out of luck anyway....much easier to just use Skype and then not worry about it...
The only time I have used Facetime was when I used my iPod and facetime my wife on her iPhone to talk her while I was away, but I switch to skype once my phone charged and she could use the computer.
If it didn't count towards your data usage,a lot of folks would. But, to answer your question: the vast majority of smartphone owners aren't tech savvy, just trendy. They use pre-installed apps because nothing else ever occurs to them.
Has gotten exponentially more horrible each year it seems. Especially on the desktop.

I use it, but I actually use FaceTime more on WiFi. Why?

Here's the steps to initiate that first Skype call:

1) Tell the other individual you want to call...

Sep 18, 2012, 9:16 AM

AT&T might...

AT&T might just get burned on this, like Verizon did with the blocking of tethering apps on android. Personally I hope the goverment tells AT&T they can not charge for FaceTime.
Personally, I don't think they should be forced to allow FT over cellular. But, isn't it free on their mobile share plans? I mean, don't they not charge data usage on it?

Sep 18, 2012, 11:19 AM

What Ever Happened To The Open Handset Alliance?

This would allow ANYONE to manufacture and sell you a device and the consumer just buy a SIM from a carrier of their choice and plug it in.

Do AWAY with carrier limitations on equipment
Do AWAY with Handset Subsidy
Do AWAY with 24 month Contracts
Do AWAY with early termination fees
Do AWAY with Assurion

In Europe this is how it is done. The carrier doesn't provide you a phone. You BUY your phone at FULL PRICE, You are responsible and take care of your device and you pay a carrier a monthly access charge...

For instance, you can buy an iPhone outright from Virgin Mobile for FULL MSRP BUT your monthly plan would only be $30 a month... That's what cell service should cost if we all werent taking out 24 month high interest mini ...
"Open Handset Alliance" is Google's term for Android licensees.

Also, I lived in Europe, and that's definitely not how it's done. They subsidize phones too, unless you're going for their outrageously overpriced prepaid plans.

You're welcome to...
Monthly service plans would not be any cheaper without the subsidy...and you're oversimplifying how it is done in Europe...most people don't buy handsets outright, they sign up for a 'tariff' which basically means that a certain amount is added to the...

Sep 18, 2012, 11:31 AM

The fact AT&T has to bring up WiFi to tapdance around this...

Makes it pretty clear they're in the wrong.

And let's not kid ourselves - Both AT&T and Verizon are both pulling these stunts to punish customers who have grandfathered unlimited data in a sort of passive-aggressive-smiley-face-undertaker manner.

How they handle my plan is asinine-

If I want to add tethering, I'm *required* to drop my unlimited data, which is already throttled at 5GB (I'm on LTE, it's 3GB if you're on HSPA.) I can't simply pay $20.00 for an additional 2GB of tethering-only data- I have to throw out the perks of my current plan entirely. (As a result, I have a Verizon hotspot.)

Now with Facetime, if I want to use it, I have to again kill my 'unlimited' data. Even though I still face the same throttle caps, and e...

Sep 18, 2012, 9:48 AM

what about google wallet blocking??

why dont someone go complain to ftc about that!
When you buy carrier equipment, you have to accept their limitations....want to use Google Wallet on at&t? Buy a Galaxy Nexus GSM unlocked model....it works fine on at&t (I know I have used it on at&t since May), and Google Wallet works fine....anoth...
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