Earlier this year, AT&T announced that you’d need a new, shared data plan to take advantage of FaceTime over Cellular. While AT&T doubled down on this unpopular move, questions were raised if this might fall afoul of the FCC. Now three groups have gone ahead and done just that, bringing an official net neutrality complaint to the FCC.
Free Press, Public Knowledge, and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute released a statement today, claiming AT&T is violating net neutrality:
“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.”
Unfortunately, the release is particularly poorly worded, because it seems to implies that AT&T is blocking all FaceTime use, when they’re restricting FaceTime over Cellular — a crucial difference.
AT&T has responded, and yet again is attempting to defend a scumbag move, saying:
The FCC’s net neutrality rules do not regulate the availability to customers of applications that are preloaded on phones. Indeed, the rules do not require that providers make available any preloaded apps. Rather, they address whether customers are able to download apps that compete with our voice or video telephony services. AT&T does not restrict customers from downloading any such lawful applications, and there are several video chat apps available in the various app stores serving particular operating systems
In other words: net neutrality doesn’t cover blocking preloaded apps, and you can still use Wi-Fi.
Is it any wonder users are less than happy with Ma Bell?