Sling Media Denies Collaboration With AT&T on 3G Streaming

Yesterday, AT&T announced that it had finally decided to allow Sling Media's SlingPlayer Mobile to stream video over the carrier's 3G network. As part of the announcement, AT&T claimed that it had "worked with" Sling Media to develop a version of the application that was optimized for performance on AT&T's network. Early reports on the approval also included specific quotes from AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega claiming that Sling Media had modified the application in response to AT&T's requests.

"The key for us is Sling Media was willing to work with us to revise the app to make it more bandwidth sensitive, "Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, said in a statement. "They made important changes to more efficiently use 3G network bandwidth and conserve wireless spectrum so that we were able to support the app on our 3G mobile broadband network."

De la Vega's statements, however, no longer appear in AT&T's official press release, and Ars Technica has heard from Sling Media, which claims that it did not work with AT&T on the application's approval.

"We didn't change anything," Sling Media's John Santoro told Ars. "AT&T never discussed any specific requirements with us."

Santoro explained that SlingPlayer Mobile has always contained code to adapt the stream quality to the given network conditions. AT&T has been in discussions with Sling since it was first released last year, but AT&T never asked the company to make specific modifications. No changes were made to the app's 3G streaming capabilities between its being barred from AT&T and now.

Sling Media's claims and AT&T's apparent backtracking suggest that AT&T may simply have decided either that SlingPlayer Mobile's video streaming would no longer place an excessive burden on the carrier's network or that its continued refusal to allow such streaming was simply indefensible as expectations for wireless data networks have grown. Consequently, the carrier may have been looking to the SlingPlayer Mobile approval announcement as a venue to encourage future developers of bandwidth-intensive applications to reach out to AT&T to ensure from the very beginning that such applications are optimized for network performance.

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