Rights Groups Say AT&T’s New Policy for FaceTime Violates Net Neutrality Rules

Two internet rights groups have cried foul on AT&T's plans for the video chat application FaceTime. The groups say that the iPhone app will violate net neutrality rules put in place by the Federal Communications Commission in late 2011. AT&T announced last week that it would only allow consumers to use the app on its 3G network if they subscribe to new shared data plans. Those subscribers who use the old individual data plans would only be allowed to use it via Wi-Fi networks.

Both Public Knowledge and Free Press say that AT&T's new policy hurts consumers using non-shared plans who want to use FaceTime for voice calls and that it violates net neutrality provisions that prohibit wireless carriers from stopping consumers who want to use competing apps.

"They're blocking a class of customers from accessing an application that directly competes with AT&T's voice service," says Joel Kelsey, policy adviser at Free Press. "If you're paying for 3 GB of data per month, you should be able to use that however you want."

"Although carriers are permitted to engage in 'reasonable network management,' there is no technical reason why one data plan should be able to access FaceTime, and another not," said Public Knowledge Senior Staff Attorney John Bergmayer.

AT&T spokesperson Mark Siegel disputed the claims by the rights group that it is playing games with FaceTime users.

"FaceTime is available to all of our customers today over Wi-Fi, and we’re now expanding its availability even further as an added benefit of our new Mobile Share data plans," he said.

Source: Media Post

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