AT&T defends plan to block 3G FaceTime for non-Mobile Share customers

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
AT&T on Wednesday published a public letter defending its decision to block FaceTime calls over 3G for customers who have not switched to its new shared data plans, arguing that its policy is in compliance with the FCC's net neutrality rules, because AT&T does not offer its own competing preloaded video chat application.

In a post to the carrier's public policy blog, AT&T representative Bob Quinn characterized criticism of the carrier's decision as a "knee jerk reaction" in which some have "rushed to judgment." The Federal Communication Commission's net neutrality rules require that carrier policies be transparent, and prohibits carriers from blocking services that compete with their own.

Because AT&T does not have a "similar preloaded video chat app" to compete with Apple's FaceTime, Quinn said the carrier believes it is not in violation of the FCC's rules on blocking applications.

"The FCC's net neutrality rules do not regulate the availability to customers of applications that are preloaded on phones," Quinn wrote. "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 without voice or video telephony services."

Quinn said AT&T still allows users to download video chat applications from the iOS App Store and other mobile application stores. Apple's FaceTime, however, comes built in to the iOS mobile operating system on the iPhone.

"Although the rules don't require it, some preloaded apps are available without charge on phones sold by AT&T, including FaceTime, but subject to some reasonable restrictions," Quinn said. "To date, all of the preloaded video chat applications on the phones we sell, including FaceTime, have been limited to Wi-Fi."

AT&T


Starting with the launch of iOS 6 this fall, the iPhone 4S will be capable of making FaceTime calls over 3G wireless networks. But AT&T announced last week that FaceTime calls over 3G will only be available to customers who sign up for the carrier's upcoming Mobile Share data plans.

"To be clear, customers will continue to be able to use FaceTime over Wi-Fi irrespective of the data plan they choose," Quinn said. "We are broadening our customers' ability to use the preloaded version of FaceTime but limiting it in this manner to our newly developed AT&T Mobile Share data plans out of an overriding concern for the impact this expansion may have on our network and the overall customer experience."

He added that AT&T will be in a "learning mode" following the launch of iOS 6 to see the kind of effect FaceTime over 3G has on AT&T's network.

AT&T's Mobile Share plans launch later this month start at a monthly price of $45 per smartphone, plus $40 for 1 gigabyte of data. The more data a subscriber adds to their plan, the less the cost per gigabyte and the cost per additional smartphone. For example, a 4-gigabyte plan with unlimited talk and text has a base price of $70, plus $40 for each smartphone.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 141


    What is Verizon's position?  Are they supporting Facetime on umlimited plans?  I thought Verizon is forcing all customers to their own tiered plans?

  • Reply 2 of 141


    As far as I know Verizon is only forcing you to a shared plan if you want to get the subsidized price on the phone.  So if I decide to pay full retail for the new iPhone when it comes out I can keep my unlimited data package.  I haven't seen them say anything about facetime over cellular yet though.


     


    As far as this goes, whoever this guy at AT&T is he is an idiot.  How does the facetime feature being built into the phone have anythign to do with this.  The fact is if you use Skype you'll be able to keep using it without changing your data plan, if you use Facetime you'll have to change to the new data plan.  That is rediculous.  Seems like they are just doing this because Apple has made it easy for them to do.  Wonder if they'll do the same thing with tethering.  If you want to tether with the new iPhone you have to update to the new shared data plans, otherwise you can't tether?

  • Reply 3 of 141


    Sorry single people, AT&T hates you and doesn't think you should be Facetiming while out and about.

  • Reply 4 of 141
    tokoloshtokolosh Posts: 100member


    It could be argued that having Facetime available to all subscribers, including those who remain on the current minute/data plans, would encourage people to lower the minutes portion of their plan. If that is the case it could also be argued that AT&T is blocking its usage to keep it from competing with a similar service that they offer. I don't know how well it would stand up but I see the two as competing services, voice communication and video communication can still be boiled down to communication.

  • Reply 5 of 141


    While true, AT&T may not have it's own video chat application, it does have an international calling app that allows between 2 and 4 cents per minute calls via VoIP. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/at-t-call-international/id468655530?mt=8

     


    The details state on AT&T's Call International app that calls may be placed over wifi in some countries. That is a VoIP technology call, which is the same as a facetime video call in all practicality, to the consumer. 



    Facetime also directly competes with the PMOU charges on AT&T's individual calling plans, by allowing customers to bypass the per minute fees when they go over their voice minutes. Forcing customers to use facetime on unlimited voice calling plans with extremely high priced data restricts Apple's ability to compete with AT&T for voice traffic. 


     


    Keep in mind in 2009 AT&T bent to allow Skype over 3G, due to pending pressure with an FCC investigation over unfair blocking. This was before the Open Internet Rules were in effect. 

  • Reply 6 of 141
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,558member


    AT&T said:


     


    Quote:


    "We are broadening our customers' ability to use the preloaded version of FaceTime but limiting it in this manner to our newly developed AT&T Mobile Share data plans out of an overriding concern for the impact this expansion may have on our network and the overall customer experience."



     


    Translation:


     


    Quote:


    We are restricting how our customers use their data in an effort to force them into plans that are more profitable for us. Our overriding concern is that customers won't want our voice plans if alternatives are available, and the overall customer experience will become less expensive.


  • Reply 7 of 141


    So if Facetime were a download from the app store that integrated into the phone app then we would be good to go?

  • Reply 8 of 141
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member


    Honestly, T-Mobile rocks more and more every day. I have unlimited everything for $50 a month with no contract. If you factor in the subsidized cost of an unlocked iPhone into the works, that is less than an additional $20 a month carried over the two years of a contract. 

  • Reply 9 of 141
    damonfdamonf Posts: 214member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Beerstalker View Post


    As far as I know Verizon is only forcing you to a shared plan if you want to get the subsidized price on the phone.  So if I decide to pay full retail for the new iPhone when it comes out I can keep my unlimited data package.  I haven't seen them say anything about facetime over cellular yet though.


     


    As far as this goes, whoever this guy at AT&T is he is an idiot.  How does the facetime feature being built into the phone have anythign to do with this.  The fact is if you use Skype you'll be able to keep using it without changing your data plan, if you use Facetime you'll have to change to the new data plan.  That is rediculous.  Seems like they are just doing this because Apple has made it easy for them to do.  Wonder if they'll do the same thing with tethering.  If you want to tether with the new iPhone you have to update to the new shared data plans, otherwise you can't tether?



    Totally agree with you on the Skype aspect.  Skype is multi-platform (Android), as are other video calling apps.  This is nickle-and-diming discrimination on AT&T's part of the iPhone, pure and simple.  Every iOS fan should contact the FCC and let them know your displeasure with this.  I may switch to Verizon because of this.


     


    A note on Verizon: as far as I know, the new Verizon shared plan only replaces the "family plans" from before, a person with only 1 phone does not have to subscribe to a "shared" plan.  And if you have an iPad, you can either get a shared plan and have your phone and iPad share the data, or you can simply subscribe to a separate data plan on the iPad.

  • Reply 10 of 141


    As I say every time this comes up:


     


    One word.


     


    Jailbreak.

  • Reply 11 of 141

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DamonF View Post


    A note on Verizon: as far as I know, the new Verizon shared plan only replaces the "family plans" from before, a person with only 1 phone does not have to subscribe to a "shared" plan.  And if you have an iPad, you can either get a shared plan and have your phone and iPad share the data, or you can simply subscribe to a separate data plan on the iPad.



    As far as I know there aren't any individual regular plans for new customers anymore.  You either get a share everything plan, or a prepaid plan.

  • Reply 12 of 141


    Bad business...I s**t canned ATT even though I had unlimited data from the first iPhone. The reason was, when I bought a WiFi iPad2 and wanted to tether it to my iPhone4. ATT told me, "Yep, $45 additional a month and oh yeah, you lose your unlimited plan!" What????


     


    ATT sux. Just bad business. The fastest growing sector and least profitable is the "pre-paid" plans. That should tell ATT and Verizon where the future is. 


     


    I wish Apple would just buy Sprint and make it $49/mo unlimited for everything. And really put the screws to ATT and Verizon! :)


     


    Also buy a sat TV company...and bypass the cable companies altogether.


     


    Actually, Apple wouldn't have to buy the companies outright they would just have to buy enough "ownership" to direct the strategies! :)


     


    Oh well, gotta write another $90 check to Sprunt.

  • Reply 13 of 141
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member

    Get bent, AT&T. 


     


    So you're saying you're legally allowed to block all smartphones from making calls because "the phone app is built in"? Or from using the Internet because "the browser is built in"?
  • Reply 14 of 141
    haarhaar Posts: 563member
    at&t are self-serving BS merchants... they control when they get a video chat app; and they control when they un-block facetime.
    OMG self-serving !!!!!

    they charge you way too much for data, and are now telling how/how not to use your "gold" plated data.

    of course i am sure this is because of the people that have unlimited data plans... (at&t's fault for providing something they should have known, that to support it they will/would have upgrade their cell phone structure for the lucky few that have the unlimited data plans).
  • Reply 15 of 141
    macbook promacbook pro Posts: 1,605member



    #next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }
    As the Qualcomm MDM9615 appears to support DC-HSPA+ (41 Mbps) which is arguably the most likely baseband processor for the new iPhone, T-Mobile might be the way to go considering the  glacial pace of deployment of AT&T's LTE network.


     


    Despite surveys which appear to suggest that consumers see little value in LTE, the new iPhone would benefit greatly from improved connectivity (Maps, Siri).


     


     


     


    #next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }

     


    #next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }

     
  • Reply 16 of 141
    jason98jason98 Posts: 759member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TBell View Post


    Honestly, T-Mobile rocks more and more every day. I have unlimited everything for $50 a month with no contract. If you factor in the subsidized cost of an unlocked iPhone into the works, that is less than an additional $20 a month carried over the two years of a contract. 



     


    I doubt T-Mobile will give me 45mbs as I am I getting on my iPad 3.

  • Reply 17 of 141

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MacBook Pro View Post


     


    Despite surveys which appear to suggest that consumers see little value in LTE, the new iPhone will benefit greatly from improved connectivity (Maps, Siri).


     


     


     



    Agreed, this seems a little like Henry Ford saying if he had asked customers what they wanted, they would have said, "a faster horse!"


     


    I think I read that in Jobs' biography.

  • Reply 18 of 141

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by alcstarheel View Post


    So if Facetime were a download from the app store that integrated into the phone app then we would be good to go?



     


    I'm all for this.  Give us a $0.99 download Apple and we can run Facetime over 3G.


     


    This whole thing is stupid.  I can't run Facetime, but I can run Netflix, or Skype?


     


    Just the other day, I was blocked from downloading a 60MB audio podcast because it was > 50MB.  So I streamed it instead.  Total Bandwidth Used: 200MB.

  • Reply 19 of 141


    AT&T is such a piece of shit.

  • Reply 20 of 141
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Beerstalker View Post


    ...  Wonder if they'll do the same thing with tethering.  If you want to tether with the new iPhone you have to update to the new shared data plans, otherwise you can't tether?



     


    I agree that they are being a-holes here because ... well, that's what carriers do (and are), but in their defence ... 


     


    ... everyone in the USA rolled over like a puppy dog on the whole tethering controversy so they have every right to expect to be able to screw people on this as well and get away with it.  


     


    Paying tethering fees is simply being charged twice for the same data and most carriers in the US do it and most people stupidly, and willingly pay for it.  


     


    I'm not sure how bad things can get before the first person stands up and refuses to take it anymore.  Where is the rage?  Where are the lawsuits against the carriers?  I find it shameful in the extreme that we all let ourselves get screwed over by these phone companies for so many years and yet nothing is ever done about it.  


     


    Profits and volume for the carriers have increased substantially in the last five years yet consumer prices remain the same (very high).  In Canada you have to sign a three year contract and you have to re-up the contract if you change any single feature of your plan for an entirely new three year period.  All the big carriers have the same deal and the same prices so you don't even have a choice.  Cell companies also regularly lie and cheat their own customers in their own stores and not only does no one do anything about it, they don't even complain.  


     


    If this was the 1970's there would be riots in the streets over this stuff, but today all we do is post angry letters on the Internet and stew in our own juices.  It's like we've turned into a world of wimps and slaves. And despite decades of evidence to the contrary, we all believe the capitalist crapola that these corporations spew out about how they aren't really making much money and how they have to pay for their infrastructure and so forth when it's easy as pie to look up the facts and find out they are all completely lying about that.  


     


    So in deference to the carriers, they have every right to expect us to take this shite because we've all been so accommodating about all the previous raping and pillaging they've done.  Why would anyone expect anything different?  

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