AT&T's FaceTime Blocking Defense Doesn't Hold Up
WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, AT&T defended its decision to block FaceTime over mobile unless customers switch to one of its new mobile share plans. AT&T's chief defense for its blocking of the iPhone's FaceTime capabilities is that the FCC's Open Internet rules do not prohibit mobile carriers from blocking "preloaded" applications, despite the fact that the term does not appear in the FCC's rules or anywhere in the nearly 200-page Open Internet Order.
Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner made the following statement:
"AT&T is inventing words that are not in the FCC's rules in a weak attempt to justify its blocking of FaceTime. The FCC's rules are crystal clear: AT&T is not permitted to block voice or video telephony applications that compete with its own services. There is simply nothing in the rules that distinguishes 'preloaded' applications from 'downloaded' applications. It is interesting to see AT&T try this line of defense, as it is tacitly admitting that it is both blocking FaceTime and that the app does in fact compete with its own offerings. FaceTime allows people to reduce their use of voice services, but AT&T is making you buy unlimited voice in order to use FaceTime over mobile. AT&T is trying to invent a loophole in the rules, but this kind of anti-consumer behavior is the exact thing the FCC's protections are designed to prohibit.
“Furthermore, AT&T’s assertion -- that FaceTime is allowed on mobile share plans because the app is data-intensive and those plans are designed to make more data available --- is ludicrous and contradicted by the facts. If that were true, why should current non-mobile share customers that purchase 3GB of data be blocked from using mobile FaceTime, while customers who purchase the 1GB shared data tier are not blocked?”