AT&T's FaceTime over cellular restriction could put them at odds with the FCC

AT&T's restriction of iOS 6 FaceTime over cellular to shared data plans might cause them to run afoul of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). AT&T won't be charging extra for FaceTime over cellular, but will be requiring what for many could be more expensive plans. Since AT&T doesn't do that with other video calling services, like Skype. Brian X. Chen reports for the New York Times:

John Bergmayer, senior staff lawyer at Public Knowledge, said AT&T was violating the F.C.C.’s Open Internet Rules, which say that mobile providers shall not “block applications that compete with the provider’s voice or video telephony services.”

“There is no technical reason why one data plan should be able to access FaceTime and another not,” Mr. Bergmayer said in a statement.

Following WWDC 2012, when Apple announced they'd finally -- finally! -- bring their video calling service, FaceTime to cellular with iOS 6, early beta versions running on AT&T iPhones showed signs that it might be restricted on that network. AT&T has a history of restricting services like tethering and MMS, so while disappointing, it was hardly a surprise.

The FCC is supposed to regulate the legal oligopolies enjoyed by telecommunication companies like AT&T. So lets see if the FCC does its job here and starts telling all the carriers that a bit is a bit, and once a customer has paid for tiered data, it's their business what they do with it.

Source: New York Times