AT&T responds to FaceTime restriction concerns

Responding to concerns over its plans to restrict access to FaceTime over Cellular—including a petition urging the FCC to look into the matter—AT&T has published a lengthy post on the matter to its Public Policy Blog. “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,” writes AT&T Senior Vice President-Federal Regulatory and Chief Privacy Officer Bob Quinn. “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[…]  Therefore, there is no net neutrality violation.”

He continues, “Although the rules don’t require it, some preloaded apps are available without charge on phones sold by AT&T, including FaceTime, but subject to some reasonable restrictions.  To date, all of the preloaded video chat applications on the phones we sell, including FaceTime, have been limited to Wi-Fi.  With the introduction of iOS6, we will extend the availability of the preloaded FaceTime to our mobile broadband network for our Mobile Share data plans which were designed to make more data available to consumers.  To be clear, customers will continue to be able to use FaceTime over Wi-Fi irrespective of the data plan they choose.  We are broadening our customers’ ability to use the preloaded version of FaceTime but limiting it in this manner to our newly developed AT&T Mobile Share data plans out of an overriding concern for the impact this expansion may have on our network and the overall customer experience.” FaceTime over Cellular will be available with the launch of iOS 6.

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