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AT&T to Face Net Neutrality Complaint Regarding FaceTime Over Cellular Limitation

Late last month, we noted that net neutrality organization Public Knowledge had accused AT&T of violating Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules in limiting use of the forthcoming FaceTime over Cellular feature in iOS 6 to customers on the carrier's new Mobile Share plans. AT&T responded to note that it was within its rights to block FaceTime over Cellular for customers on other plans because net neutrality regulations do not apply to apps that are preloaded on devices as seen with Apple's FaceTime app.

GigaOM now notes that Public Knowledge has banded together with Free Press and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute to notify AT&T that they will indeed be filing a net neutrality complaint with the FCC over the issue.
“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. "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."
The press release is a required 10-day advance notice of the intended action, with the group saying that the complaint will be filed "in the coming weeks".

Top Rated Comments

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71 months ago
Die AT&T. DIE!!!
Rating: 70 Votes
71 months ago
Data is data.
Rating: 45 Votes
71 months ago
Hope AT&T either changes their choice, or pays for it! Greed at it's finest!
Rating: 41 Votes
71 months ago
Take them down.
Rating: 38 Votes
71 months ago
I am happy with AT&T and never had a complaint, but that is a crappy move on their part. It's our data to do with it what we please.
Rating: 36 Votes
71 months ago

You whiners need to get over it. AT&T is a business and therefore it makes business decisions. When AT&T offered unlimited data, devices simply didn't use that much, they were slow, apps were slow, steaming movies and videos through cellular technology wasn't quite here yet, etc.

Now data consumption has gone through the roof and AT&T has to manage their costs. You are bunch of entitled babies that expect businesses to operate at a loss to give you the service you think you deserve. You are lucky they didn't strip away your unlimited data already. Businesses are NOT in business for the good of humanity. They are here to make a profit. They make a profit by providing goods or services at a price where we can FREELY choose to trade our hard earned dollars for that service. If you don't like the service they provide, STOP freely CHOOSING to trade your dollars for their service. It's as simple as that.

Stop whining about whiners.
Rating: 15 Votes
71 months ago
Apple could buy AT&T :D
Rating: 12 Votes
71 months ago
Let's be realistic here. It's either that or we lose our grandfathered unlimited data and be forced to switch to the mobile share plan a la Verizon.

Can't eat our cake and have it too.
Rating: 12 Votes
71 months ago
I hope AT&T looses this one ... sick of AT&T screwing its customers by limiting the features (remember how long it took AT&T to support MMS, while the rest of the world was already enjoying it on the iPhone?)

I am just afraid that if they are forced to allow it, that they will only allow it if I give up my unlimited data plan and switch to one of the stupid shared plans.
Rating: 12 Votes
71 months ago
This is the best I can do, so I'll use my post again.

What I sent AT&T after they reached out to me because I complained to the FCC:

I emailed you yesterday, did it not go through? Regardless, I'm trying to figure out how this does not break with the principles of net neutrality? From everything I have gathered thus far, your plan is to block my access to and usage of specific data that is both legal and reasonable--unless I choose to pay more for less data on a different plan. I do not pay AT&T for specific content, I pay for access to that content. As a wireless provider, your responsibility is to provide access to data in exchange for a fee; by forcing me into a plan with less data for a higher price, is inherently forcing me to pay more for a service that sends and receives data packets just as Skype, Netflix, Hulu, Facebook and other apps do. A bit is a bit is a bit. To differentiate between them and charge more (inherent in the forced plan migration) for one set of 1's and 0's as opposed to any other set of 1's and 0's is a breach of net neutrality. I pay for the 1's and 0's, not what they translate to. But lets take a step back for a moment and look at your actions in a different industry:

Say my car is in the shop, and my only option is to use a taxi service. On Monday, I call them up ask them to take me to the grocery store, so they come and pick me up in a Toyota Prius. That's cool, I don't mind being seen in one--they save the environment and what not. Tuesday comes around, and I call the taxi service, here's the conversation I have:
Me: Hey, I'm the guy you took to the grocery store yesterday, could you pick me up? I need a ride today.
Taxi service: Oh, well great to hear from you! Sure we'd love to do that--we'll send one of our taxis right on over! Where are you going to?
Me: To the airport.
Taxi service: You're aware that will cost more money, right?
Me: That makes sense--I figured having the taxi take me farther would cost me a little bit more.
Taxi service: No sir, apparently you don't understand. It will cost more because you have to take a different vehicle to go to the airport.
Me: Why?
Taxi service: Oh, well typically, people going to the airport don't go by themselves, so typically you need the extra seating room, and typically people going to the airport need more room for their luggage, and the Lincoln TownCar has a bigger trunk than the Prius.
Me: Oh, that's not necessary, I'm going by myself and only taking a small carry-on.
Taxi service: You don't understand, if you're going to the airport, you have to take the Lincoln TownCar.
Me: But I don't need it, the Prius will do just fine. Is it really necessary for me to take the TownCar?
Taxi service: Yes.
Me: But I don't need it, and since this is a technicality on your part, can you just charge me the regular Prius rate?
Taxi service: I'm sorry I can't provide you the Prius service rate if you are going to use the TownCar.
Me: But I don't need the TownCar...?
Taxi service: Oh, so you're not going to the airport, then?
Me: No, I'm still going to the airport, I just don't need the TownCar.
Taxi service: Well, if you're going to the airport, then you need the TownCar.

You see, I understand that I have to pay to use services, and if I use more of them, I should have to pay more. What doesn't make sense is why I should have to pay an additional fee for something simply because of the way I'm using it. If I don't need all the seating and trunk space to go to the airport, I shouldn't have to pay more for it when their is a simpler, more affordable alternative available to me. But say I need to go with a friend to the home improvement store, and I need a saw horse; I call up the taxi service and pay for the TownCar (you won't believe how big the trunks are). I needed the space, and operating a TownCar is more expensive than a Prius so it will most likely cost more to use. It would be silly for a taxi to charge me more based solely on where I was going to and not on how long it took me to get to my destination.

Back to the real world. You are implementing a policy of data discrimination and taking an emphatic position against the principles of net neutrality. Using "legalese" to wiggle your way out of a situation to justify forcing customers to purchase an inferior product at a higher price is inexcusable. Justifying the decision by saying that you are forcing people to use the Mobile Share Plan in order to "[monitor] the impact the upgrade to this popular preloaded app has on our mobile broadband network, and customers, too, will be in a learning mode as to exactly how much data FaceTime consumes on those usage-based plans," is a cop-out. Limiting this feature to this group of customers for monitoring implies that it will be a small user-base. We both know that it will be a small user-base because people don't want the plan, because they don't want to pay for features they don't need, in order to to get less data.

Your slogan is "Rethink possible," and your policies lead me to believe that less is possible.


P.S. Here's a deleted scene:

Me: I don't understand why I need to pay for the TownCar to go to the airport.
Taxi service: Sir, if I can be honest with you--and this stays between you and me, but if we don't require you to use the Lincoln TownCar to get to the airport, then people would never use the TownCar service.
Me: So by cutting options, you can force people into plans that make you more money?
Taxi service: Bingo! Oh--the higher-ups are coming! (in a scripted voice) Oh, no sir! The Lincoln TownCar really will serve your needs better!
Rating: 10 Votes

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