AT&T Receives FCC Waiver Needed for Wi-Fi Calling, No Launch Date Yet

Earlier this week, AT&T announced that it had delayed its promised Wi-Fi calling feature as it had not been able to obtain an FCC waiver that would allow it to temporarily forgo offering support options for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. Following that announcement, the FCC has now granted AT&T's waiver request, allowing the carrier to proceed with its Wi-Fi calling launch plans.

The waiver is available on the FCC website [PDF] and grants AT&T the right to delay implementing a teletypewriter (TTY) service for the deaf until December 31, 2017. AT&T plans to instead use a newer form of communication, real-time text (RTT) as an alternative, and the waiver will allow it to avoid using a TTY service until its RTT service is fully operational.

att_wi_fi_calling
In response to the FCC's waiver grant, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs Jim Cicconi gave MacRumors the following statement:

We're grateful the FCC has granted AT&T's waiver request so we can begin providing Wi-Fi calling. At the same time we are left scratching our heads as to why the FCC still seems intent on excusing the behavior of T-Mobile and Sprint, who have been offering these services without a waiver for quite some time. Instead of initiating enforcement action against them, or at least opening an investigation, the agency has effectively invited them to now apply for similar waivers and implied that their prior flaunting of FCC rules will be ignored. This is exactly what we meant when our letter spoke of concerns about asymmetric regulation."

In its original statement on the waiver delay, AT&T called out Sprint and T-Mobile for implementing Wi-Fi calling without obtaining similar permissions from the FCC, a sentiment that is again echoed in the above statement. Both T-Mobile and Sprint have allegedly implemented their Wi-Fi calling features without requesting a waiver for TTY rules.

Though AT&T now has its waiver, the company has not yet provided a timeline on when its subscribers can expect to have access to Wi-Fi calling. Ahead of the waiver fiasco, AT&T made Wi-Fi calling available during the iOS beta testing period, suggesting it is ready to debut in the near future.

(Thanks, Ryan!)

Tag: AT&T

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Top Rated Comments

btrach144 Avatar
114 months ago
AT&T: "We're ready for Wi-Fi calling but we want to play by the rules. We're still waiting on FCC approval."
FCC: "Okay, AT&T, your request has been granted."
AT&T: "Crap, that was quick. We're still not ready. How do we buy more time?"
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Palliser Avatar
114 months ago
Translation: "We're still not ready for wifi calling but let us divert your attention to those meanie wireless carriers who beat us to it."
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AMCTheaters Avatar
114 months ago
Still better than Verizon's excuse of "we're pretending our service is too good for you to ever need wifi calling."
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Gasu E. Avatar
114 months ago
Just stop AT&T. You're not the school yard snitch.

I have no love for ATT, but I have to agree. I do not approve of corporate lawbreakers. What's the point of following the rules if the other guys can break them without consequence? If you excuse this behavior, then what other rules do you think these corporations start breaking?
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
itsthenewdc Avatar
114 months ago
Waiting on a waiver, yet, not ready to pull the trigger once they got a waiver?
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LOLobo Avatar
114 months ago
Just stop AT&T. You're not the school yard snitch.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)