Originally published: August 20, 2012
Last updated: August 20, 2012 - 10:05pm
When Apple releases its next version of its mobile operating system iOS this fall, iPhone customers will have the option to place FaceTime video calls over the cellular network, whereas before they could do so only on Wi-Fi. On the AT&T network, however, that privilege will be available to customers only on a certain type of data plan, which has raised debate on whether or not the carrier is violating government rules.
AT&T said that using FaceTime over its network would be a feature for customers of its shared data plans, not customers who have the older unlimited or tiered data plans. Public Knowledge, a nonprofit group that focuses on Internet law, says that by prohibiting its other customers from using the video-calling feature on the network, AT&T is violating network neutrality rules by blocking a service that potentially competes with its own. John Bergmayer, senior staff lawyer at Public Knowledge, said AT&T was violating the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Rules, which say that mobile providers shall not “block applications that compete with the provider’s voice or video telephony services.” “There is no technical reason why one data plan should be able to access FaceTime and another not,” Bergmayer said. AT&T says it has done nothing wrong, because FaceTime is still available over Wi-Fi.
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