AT&T to face possible FCC fine over FaceTime restrictions

With iOS 6 came the announcement that the iPhone’s latest operating system would support FaceTime calls using cellular data, rather than just Wi-Fi, as was the case beforehand.

Following that announcement, AT&T made the decision to limit that feature to customers who use its shared data plans, a move that disheartened and angered many current and potential customers. However, it may not just be disgruntled consumers that AT&T will have to deal with. Reports from GigaOM suggest that several open-Internet advocacy groups have warned AT&T of their intentions to file a complaint against the American telecom giant with the Federal Communications Commission.

AT&T FaceTime FCC

According to their claims, AT&T’s policy against cellular FaceTime is in direct conflict with network neutrality restrictions that were established by the FCC two years ago.

Matt Wood from the Free Press said:

“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.”

The FCC’s neutrality restrictions are of a somewhat ambiguous nature, so right now, its very difficult to determine whether or not AT&T are in fact violating any of the rules. The main scope of any enquiry will have to establish whether AT&T are giving preferential treatment to any of its own video calling apps. The FCC strictly forbids the blocking of apps that are in direct competition with a service provided by the company itself.

AT&T claims that the restrictions only apply to third party apps, not preloaded apps.

Are you going to miss out because of AT&T’s FaceTime policy? Do you think they have good grounds to place restrictions on the service? Leave your comments below!

@TiP_Stephen

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,