AT&T has released a response on why it will block FaceTime over 3G to users not paying for its more expensive Mobile Share Plans.Since the announcement last week, many tech pundits have claimed the decision violates net neutrality rules from the FCC since other video chat apps like Skype and ooVoo allow you to use their services over 3G.
The short explanation is that because FaceTime is a pre-installed iPhone app, AT&T considers itself free to block its use over 3G unless you sign up for one of the carrier’s new shared data plans. It claims this action does not violate FCC rules.
The statement also says FaceTime will still be availble to use over Wi-Fi connection no matter what data plan you sign up for with AT&T.
Here’s the meat of AT&T’s statement, from its public policy blog:
The FCC’s net neutrality rules do not regulate the availability to customers of applications that are preloaded on phones. Indeed, the rules do not require that providers make available any preloaded apps. Rather, they address whether customers are able to download apps that compete with our voice or video telephony services. AT&T does not restrict customers from downloading any such lawful applications, and there are several video chat apps available in the various app stores serving particular operating systems. (I won’t name any of them for fear that I will be accused by these same groups of discriminating in favour of those apps. But just go to your app store on your device and type “video chat.”) Therefore, there is no net neutrality violation.