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AT&T to face FCC complaint for iPhone FaceTime over cellular restrictions

News by Andrew Kameka on Tuesday September 18, 2012.

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AT&T confirmed last month that it won't allow customers to make FaceTime video calls over a cellular connection, unless they switch to its Mobile Share Data plans. Three organizations have banded together to speak out against that decision by filing a complaint with the FCC. Free Press, Public Knowledge, and the Open Technology Institute say they will file a complaint because AT&T forces customers to give up their existing and more valuable plans in order to use a standard feature of the next version of Apple's iOS operating system.

After early complaints about its decision to restrict FaceTime over cellular to Mobile Share users, AT&T claimed that it does not violate FCC net neutrality rules because FaceTime is a pre-loaded app. The carrier contends that because it permits customers to use alternative video calling apps like Skype or Tango, it is within its rights to limit FaceTime access. The complaining organizations argue that the decision is a violation of the FCC's Open Internet rules, which "preserve the Internet as an open platform enabling consumer choice, freedom of expression, end-user control, competition, and the freedom to innovate without permission."

Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood added this statement on the matter:

"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. 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."

Neither AT&T nor the FCC has responded to the complaint yet.

source: Public Knowledge, via: GigaOM

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Andrew Kameka
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.

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