AT&T recently announced it’s plans for FaceTime over Cellular to many negative reactions online, and today it decided to responded to the criticism.
On the AT&T Public Policy Blog AT&T VP Bob Quinn claims that the carrier’s restrictions for FaceTime over Cellular don’t violate the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules for wireless carriers. He says that because the carrier is transparent about the restrictions, and the app is pre-installed on all modern iPhones there’s no problems.
According to Quinn, the negative responses are knee jerk reactions by some groups who feel the restrictions violate the FCC’s rules. At least one group recently started a petition to ask the FCC to look into the restrictions. The group claims it is unfair for AT&T to limit the new iOS 6 feature to Mobile Share customers.
The way Quinn describes the rules, because Apple bundles FaceTime with the iPhone, AT&T is free to restrict its usage. He goes on to passive-aggressively say users can find other video chat apps that work of cellular connections in the App Store if they want that feature.
By Quinn’s logic AT&T is free to limit any pre-installed app, including apps like Skype that are sometimes pre-installed on Android devices. The logic is in line with the carrier’s initial stance on tethering with the iPhone, and the lack of tethering on the AT&T new iPad.
Without a thorough understanding of the law we can’t say if AT&T is correct in its logic. While the restrictions could be legally sound, they seem like the carrier is trying its best to screw customers. The move sounds is surely made to draw more people to Mobile Share plans and away from grandfathered unlimited plans.
While not everybody will find FaceTime over Cellular useful, we find the idea that AT&T can just decide to limit it, or any other pre-installed app, troubling. It’s enough to convince us to consider Verizon or Sprint when the iPhone 5 launches in September.