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  • AT&T: We Are Allowed to Block FaceTime Over Cellular


    In all of the recent criticisms against AT&T for choosing to limit FaceTime over cellular networks to those in AT&T’s shared data plans, AT&T has finally come forward with a response to those complaining about the decision in their blog. AT&T claims that because FaceTime is a pre-installed application on Apple’s devices, AT&T is allowed to block FaceTime over cellular from whomever they want, to their heart’s content:

    Originally Posted by AT&T:
    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 favor of those apps. But just go to your app store on your device and type “video chat.”) Therefore, there is no net neutrality violation.
    Since FaceTime is an application that is already on mobile devices from the factory, AT&T claims that it is different from any third party services that can be downloaded from the App Store and similarly used to obtain video calling features over the cellular network. AT&T also openly states that they cannot and will not limit the activity of users with third party video calling applications such as Skype, Tango, ooVoo, and many others, although AT&T refused to name any specific applications out of fear of being accused for being favorable.

    While AT&T may be playing along with the rules in their book, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the company is doing this purposely with no real reasoning besides money. Several other comparable iPhone carriers will be allowing users to use the FaceTime over cellular feature without blocking it from certain users without specific data plans or charging extra to use the feature. For this, some people may move over to different companies.

    Even though AT&T plans to block FaceTime over cellular for certain subscribers, jailbreak tweaks can allow the feature to be used on jailbroken devices. Additionally, users can always connect to a Wi-Fi network to use FaceTime, as AT&T cannot control what you do over Wi-Fi.

    According to AT&T’s blog, AT&T plans to monitor the usage of FaceTime over cellular to learn about the impacts of the feature on their cellular network. We have a feeling it won’t be much and even after AT&T finally learns this, they will probably still block most of us from it for the fun of having control over things.

    Sources: AT&T blog via 9to5Mac
    This article was originally published in forum thread: AT&T: We Are Allowed to Block FaceTime Over Cellular started by Anthony Bouchard View original post
    Comments 47 Comments
    1. *T*'s Avatar
      *T* -
      AT&T's reasoning is simple: FaceTime interferes with regular phone services.
    1. Colacone's Avatar
      Colacone -
      Quote Originally Posted by jamesgunaca View Post
      I think a better response would have been something akin to "we want to see what kind of impact it has so we are limiting it to our shared data plan subscribers only, first" and if it isn't eating up too much bandwidth, roll it out to more subscribers. Very similar to how Apple had limited Siri to iPhone 4S first and then are now rolling it out to iPads to manage server load properly and make sure the service is scalable.

      But, no, instead we get AT&T saying "we're allowed to do this, so STFU" because the reality is, they don't want to have to keep paying to improve their network just so we can video chat using an integrated service like FaceTime.

      I swear, if there was another carrier that would give me unlimited data on the new iPhone with LTE, I'd tell AT&T to get bent. I won't go Verizon because they are basically the other side of the same coin.
      Sprint man. I know it sounds like a joke, but they have their LTE rolling out now. Although AT&T will be faster, with speeds of 7-8 MBPS and unlimited, no throttling, data Sprint seems to be a good choice in the near future. They're even rolling out LTE Advanced next year I hear.
    1. Carvensno's Avatar
      Carvensno -
      Quote Originally Posted by danelgran View Post
      AT&T is crazy stupid!!! I've been an ATT customer since iPHone 1....but once iPhone 5 comes out with Verizon LTE4 goodness.....it's buh-bye ATT!!!
      And I'm sure I'm not the only person thinking this!!!
      Well i know i have, I've been with ATT for about 10 yrs and cant complain about the CS. But with there lack of LTE and they have no plans to have LTE in my area? Im thinking of pulling my 3 lines and going to big red.
    1. bencjedi's Avatar
      bencjedi -
      Would the connection be treated any differently if I make a VPN connection from my iPhone to my home network, in regard to AT&T looking for cellular FT calls? It's a data stream through the cellular, but ultimately out of my home network\ISP then, right? I use My3G for FT calls now. I'll have to test it with VPN connected with my neighbor. Might be able to slip under AT&T's radar when they start checking.
    1. iYeow's Avatar
      iYeow -
      ATNT is beginning to behave like apple , having so much restrictions. I am sure there are other providers which will allow Facetime over 3g without additional charges.
    1. MXCO's Avatar
      MXCO -
      I'm waiting for the new iPhone and hoping t-mobile gets the new iPhone and then bye bye AT&T! I've been wanting to switch to t-mobile for sometime but the iPhone is what stopped me.
    1. unison999's Avatar
      unison999 -
      When company gets big this is what happens, they do not care about their customers. The only thing they care about is how to get that extra penny. Because a penny from every one of their customers means millions more in profit. My contract is up in September, going to switch my phone service not because of just this but for $90+/mo bill for 1 cellphone is just ridiculous.
    1. kyphur's Avatar
      kyphur -
      It's ironic that at&t is basically saying Facetime is an inferior Video Calling app, I wonder how Apple feels about that?

      It's stupid that at&t would limit a singular Video Call app.

      All they're doing is pissing longtime customers off.

      Honestly we use Skype more than FT (which is apple's own fault) so functionally I don't care but idealogicly it annoys me that they're using a bogus argument to move people to the bad deal that shared data plans really are.
    1. MaStA819's Avatar
      MaStA819 -
      I've never even used facetime...
    1. Anonymous's Avatar
      Anonymous -
      Quote Originally Posted by MaStA819 View Post
      I've never even used facetime...
      I rarely use it, but it's unfair and stupid that AT&T gets to chose how we use our data.
    1. xhazex9x's Avatar
      xhazex9x -
      At&t sucks im definitely switching to verizon after my plans up
    1. Anthony Bouchard's Avatar
      Anthony Bouchard -
      Quote Originally Posted by kyphur View Post
      It's ironic that at&t is basically saying Facetime is an inferior Video Calling app, I wonder how Apple feels about that?
      I do not believe they said anything along those lines. They simply want to charge a premium for the user's right to use it – getting tied into expensive shared data plans.
    1. LearningMan's Avatar
      LearningMan -
      Has anybody heard if the next gen iPhone 5 will finally support concurrent data and voice on Verizon? If they supported that and would let me have unlimited data, I'd move all my phones ove in a NY minute. I bet I could get them to concede the unlimited, I just have times when the concurrency is really nice for what I do. I could (and probably will) live without it though.
    1. Anonymous's Avatar
      Anonymous -
      Quote Originally Posted by LearningMan View Post
      Has anybody heard if the next gen iPhone 5 will finally support concurrent data and voice on Verizon? If they supported that and would let me have unlimited data, I'd move all my phones ove in a NY minute. I bet I could get them to concede the unlimited, I just have times when the concurrency is really nice for what I do. I could (and probably will) live without it though.
      It's all just rumors bro. No one really knows unless they are the select few in Apple
    1. iLoveWindows&iPhone's Avatar
      iLoveWindows&iPhone -
      Honestly, this does not affect me at all (in regards to my iphone and or service), it does however...upset me. I have always been a fan of AT&T, and they have always treated me great...Besides that one time when they threatened to switch my plan (effectively taking away my grandfather status) without my consent, and automatically enroll me into a plan which they felt best suited my needs...I'm speaking of the Tethering debacle in case you're wondering. Well it all worked out, they never switched me, just tried to use scare tactics and bully me into something I didn't want or need. Not very nice, but I forgave them.

      Anyways...As a loyal AT&T customer, who always defends (defended) AT&T when others would say how much they sucked and Verizon is awesome and blah blah blah... It sucks to see them make these horrible PR decisions. They have made themselves....un-defendable!! Its not what I think as a individual/unaffected customer that matters...What really matters is how the public sees and perceives them and their seemingly greedy practices. They already have a bad reputation, yet they continue to to make decisions based solely on how it will (might) help the network, and of course...profits. It doesn't seem like they ever stop to think about how they will come across in ther public. And coming off as "greedy" in this day and age is a VERY BAD thing.

      Do they have a PR department? Do they know what PR is? They really need to start looking at the pros and cons when making these kind of technical decisions, and then decide if it is worth it. This is a perfect example. Is the small, small decrease of traffic on their network (if any )...worth the HUGE hit their reputation will take? I highly doubt it.
    1. javiert30's Avatar
      javiert30 -
      You ATT brock Facetime from us, we block you from our life, we got options.
    1. BhadKarma's Avatar
      BhadKarma -
      Loop
      Hole them.
      Make users download it in the app stores
    1. BadJ3d1's Avatar
      BadJ3d1 -
      I was totally pissed off with ATT. This Facetime thing is yet another reason to leave them, which I did yesterday.
    1. ddonuts4's Avatar
      ddonuts4 -
      AT&T: We Are Allowed to Block FaceTime Over Cellular
      Me: Then I'm allowed to switch to another carrier
    1. Anonymous's Avatar
      Anonymous -
      Quote Originally Posted by ddonuts4 View Post
      Me; Then I'm allowed to switch to another carrier
      Good one