AT&T’s FaceTime Data Plan Requirement Could Be Violating F.C.C Rules


Few days back, AT&T announced that it won’t be charging for FaceTime over cellular feature in iOS 6, but will require customers to be on one of its new Mobile Share data plans to be able to use the feature.

Digital advocacy group Public Knowledge believes that AT&T is violating F.C.C rules of net neutrality with this new policy.

A senior lawyer at the advocacy group told New York Times that AT&T was violating F.C.C.’s Open Internet Rules, which states that service providers should 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,” Mr. Bergmayer said in a statement.

AT&T insists that it has done nothing wrong as it claims that FaceTime is still available over Wi-Fi. Mark Siegel, an AT&T spokesman issued the following statement defending the company’s new policy:

FaceTime is available to all of our customers today over Wi-Fi, and we’re now expanding its availability even further as an added benefit of our new Mobile Share data plans.

But that doesn’t explain why FaceTime over cellular networks is available to users on the new Mobile Share data plans, but not to users who are on the grandfathered unlimited data plans and the tiered data plans that were launched in 2010. It also seems odd that they would introduce this policy for FaceTime, when users can use VoIP based apps like Skype to make video calls over cellular network since 2010.

Sprint has said that it has no plans to charge their iPhone customers additional fees for using FaceTime over their network as it considers it part of customer’s existing data package. Verizon has yet to say if it will have restrictions on the feature.

F.C.C had no comment on the matter. It’s a pity that carriers like AT&T have been allowed to take customers for a ride and charge for features like tethering and FaceTime over cellular (in iOS 6), which are offered for free in most countries.

It will be interesting to see if Public Knowledge will be able to change that in the near future.

Let us know your thoughts on the issue in the comments below.

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Categories: AT&T, Carriers, iPhone News

  • Bandrax

    Its a pitty. AT&T should be sued. FCC should take notice of this. Is there some where as a user we can complain? Like a forum or website?

    • Brian

      Ask and you shall receive:

      • BoatBoy

        I just filed, how about you??

        • Bandrax

          Filed a complaint on FCC website. Thanks

        • Bandrax

          I had filed a complaint on FCC website. They forwarded my complaint to AT&T. Someone called me from AT&T office of president. They cleared their stand again to me.

  • BMWIIIMPower

    My3G + MyWi = My no haz problems. :)

    • Zubie81

      Thought that was the case too. Just recently JB my i4S and have been flagged by AT&T as a top tier user. Only FaceTime’d once or twice over 3G. Any way to circumvention being flagged?

      • BMWIIIMPower

        I got flagged once – I called cause I had only used 2gb of my unlimited plan and I was afraid they’d start to unfairly throttle me. The rep told me it was a warning only and if I continually show up as a top tier user then they will throttle me. The “top tier users” are determined by comparing your usage to others “in the area.” When asked what my “area” was she said that information is not available. I live in Chicago… I guarantee I am NOT a top tier user at only 2gb data… its just a bullsht plan to threaten unlimited users and force them into a tiered data plan. They figure if they piss you off enough by throttling you to below Edge speeds after 2gb then you will make the switch. COMPLETELY dishonest crap. UNLIMITED should mean UNLIMITED with no restrictions applied? At least thats what I thought when I signed up for it. Anyway, long story short… they flagged me once as a warning… never throttled me as of yet, and I havent gotten a warning even though 2 months ago I used 6gb. Soooo…. they’re not very consistant I suppose? AT&T is not what they used to be (at least what they SAID they were) that much is sure.

  • Brian K

    The FCC should have been on top of them a long time ago. AT&T has had 3+ years since the inception of the smartphone or iPhone to get their system up to par. When the iPhone 4 came out and they started throttling their customers thats when the FCC should have thrown the red flag or as i like to call it the “BULLS**T FLAG”. The FCC should have said that they couldnt punish their customers for their laziness and/or greed as they should now with this recent development. The arguement that we didnt know is a load of bull. AT&T has always been “behind the ball” on getting there system up to par with demand. This should also apply to all other carriers who take their customers “for a ride”. JUST SAYING!!!

  • AT&T Rapes Me

    What happen to the mobile site

  • Jeremy Wilson

    Just filed a complaint with the FCC, AT&T is too greedy and needs to take care of its customers. Verizon is looking pretty good right now.

  • Mayor Mike Bloomberg

    Props to sprint. I hope Verizon will compete and not be douche bags like AT&T. They are digging their own grave with these policies..

  • SteveVB

    isn’t this a case of “Unlimited” needs to be limited somehow? When I go to an all-you-can-eat buffet with my family, I have to pay for everyone at the table. When I go to a restaurant with a menu, if I feel like ordering 1 dish, and sharing with my kids, that’s my business.

    No one can run a business on offerings that have no limits. It seems fair to me that if “unlimited” is offered, they can place some sort of limits on it’s use. If they sell you 5GB you should be able to use it however you like.