Open Internet Groups To File FCC Complaint Over AT&T’s Controversial FaceTime Data Plan Requirement

iPhone 5

Free Press, Public Knowledge, and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute have informed AT&T that they will be filing a complaint against the wireless carrier with the F.C.C for violating network neutrality rules for its controversial data plan requirement for FaceTime over cellular in iOS 6.

Back in August, AT&T had 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.

At that time, Digital advocacy group Public Knowledge felt that AT&T’s controversial data plan requirement to allow FaceTime on their network in iOS 6 could be violating F.C.C rules. However, AT&T responded to the accusation, claiming that it is not bound by F.C.C rules in this case as FaceTime is a pre-installed app.

Free Press – a net neutrality advocate isn’t buying AT&T’s explanation and along with Public Knowledge, and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute has informed AT&T that it will be filing a formal complaint with the F.C.C:

“AT&T’s decision to block FaceTime unless a customer pays for voice and text minutes she doesn’t need is a clear violation of the FCC’s Open Internet rules,” said Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood. “It’s particularly outrageous that AT&T is requiring this for iPad users, given that this device isn’t even capable of making voice calls. AT&T’s actions are incredibly harmful to all of its customers, including the deaf, immigrant families and others with relatives overseas, who depend on mobile video apps to communicate with friends and family.”

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 also confirmed last week that it won’t be charging users for FaceTime over its cellular network.

This should ideally weakens AT&T stance, but it will be interesting to see what F.C.C has to say after receiving the complaint, as they’ve not commented on the matter so far.

[Free Press via GigaOM]