AT&T's FaceTime limits might conflict with FCC rules
Some people have raised red flags regarding AT&T's limits on the use of FaceTime on the upcoming iOS, alleging the restrictions could go against Federal Communications Commission rules.
"Over-the-top communications services like FaceTime are a threat to carriers' revenue, but they should respond by competing with these services and not by engaging in discriminatory behavior," senior staff attorney at Public Knowledge John Bergmayer said in a statement. Public Knowledge is a nonprofit organization that works on Internet law.
The "discriminatory behavior" that Bergmayer is alluding to is AT&T's newly announced rules on how its subscribers can use FaceTime's video call service. Last week, the network released a statement confirming that users on its upcoming Mobile Share plan can run FaceTime over its cellular network. But other plans still require Wi-Fi to use the video service.
Back in June, Apple announced that its latest mobile operating system, iOS 6, would allow users to carry out FaceTime calls through a data network in addition to Wi-Fi. Questions were raised about how much network data this feature would eat up, along with speculation that AT&T may charge its iPhone users for running the video chat feature over its cellular network.
Despite there being no extra cost to use FaceTime, the fact that some AT&T subscribers can use it over their cellular network while others can't could prove problematic with FCC rules, according to Public Knowledge.
AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel told CNET that the company doesn't believe its plan is breaking the FCC's rules. "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.
Updated at 8:20 p.m. PTwith comment from AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel.