In restricting use of Apple FaceTime, AT&T (NYSE:T) is being accused of violating network neutrality regulations. Not so, says AT&T, outlining a tortuous legal argument why it's in the clear. It just wants more money, to ensure it can offer enough bandwidth.
In IT Blogwatch, bloggers gasp in angered awe at AT&T's audacity. [That's enough awful alliteration -Ed.]
By Richi Jennings: Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: The Pirate Bay's Peter Sunde: Freedom king, or evil monster?...
Yoni Heisler has good news... and bad:
With iOS 6...FaceTime will for the first time be available over 3G. ... [But] AT&T announced...that FaceTime over cellular will only be available to customers [on] a new Mobile Share plan.
...[It] drew a lot of ire from folks claiming that the decision ran afoul of net neutrality laws. ... But when you get down to the nitty gritty, it's apparent...that AT&T's decision is [about] their network being able to handle all that data. MORE
Tony Bradley calls it "simple extortion" and a "PR nightmare":
AT&T is using FaceTime as a bargaining chip to force customers [onto] new data plans.
...From AT&T’s perspective, the limitations...are really an altruistic move to help customers out. ... [But] extort[ing] customers to switch to more expensive plans is...indefensible.
...AT&T...deserves the pubic relations nightmare it created. MORE
So is this a violation of net-neutrality regulations? AT&T's Bob Quinn says not:
Those arguments are wrong. ... [We] are prohibited...from blocking applications that compete with [our] voice or video telephony services.
...The FCC [does] not regulate...applications that are preloaded...they address whether customers are able to download apps that compete with our...services. MORE
Nick Heer translates Quinn's quotes: [Ahem -Ed.]
You won’t believe how tightly we are threading...through some loopholes we found. ... The FCC prohibits blocking applications, not [their] use... Tell me that ain’t clever.
...We have a ****** network. ...every other country [allows] FaceTime over 3G for no extra cost [and] mobile hotspot features [but] we can’t do that unless you want...service in Midtown Manhattan to be even worse than it already is. MORE
Meanwhile, Mike Masnick, mesmerized, mutters: [What did I tell you? -Ed.]
...it's quite amazing to watch AT&T try to tap dance around [the rules] while clearly violating both the spirit and the letter.
...AT&T's defense is two-fold: ...that there is a loophole...in that it does not apply to preloaded apps. ...that as long as some other competing apps are available, they can restrict the apps they want to.
...[This is] a symptom of...a lack of serious competition. MORE
And Stacey Higginbotham calls it "bait and switch":
...absent real transparency [we] have no way of knowing if AT&T is using [this]...to push people off its unlimited and tiered plans. [But] that is likely what AT&T is actually doing.
...As revenue from voice and texting decrease, these shared plans lock in some of the revenue...in the form of fixed fees for devices. ...the discussion about preloading is a red herring.
...So consumers shouldn’t just get upset over...FaceTime but about the greater games Ma Bell is playing. MORE