Just days after AT&T announced a bizarre new policy regarding FaceTime over cellular charges, the company is fighting back after iPhone users have cried foul over the policy. AT&T says there is nothing legally wrong with their requirement that one must subscribe to one of their Mobile Share plans in order to not be charged for the new service.
As Aldrin Calimlim reported, the nation’s second largest carrier announced that they won’t be charging extra for FaceTime over cellular when it debuts on the iPhone with iOS 6. However, that policy comes with one significant caveat: Customers must use one of the company’s new Mobile Share plans in order to qualify.
Naturally, this rule has annoyed customers. In fact, it has gotten so bad, that many have circulated online petitions, and claimed that the FCC should get involved.
Nonsense, says AT&T, who released the following statement:
FaceTime is a video chat application that has been pre-loaded onto every AT&T iPhone since the introduction of iPhone 4. Customers have been using this popular app for several years over Wi-Fi. AT&T does not have a similar preloaded video chat app that competes with FaceTime or any other preloaded video chat application. Nonetheless, in another knee jerk reaction, some groups have rushed to judgment and claimed that AT&T’s plans will violate the FCC’s net neutrality rules. Those arguments are wrong.
AT&T claims that because they aren’t blocking services or apps, but rather are being asked to provide “more access” to data, that they have done nothing wrong.
They also say “there’s a place for “reasonable restrictions” on preloaded apps on the iPhone.”
[S]ome preloaded apps are available without charge on phones sold by AT&T, including FaceTime, but subject to some reasonable restrictions. To date, all of the preloaded video chat applications on the phones we sell, including FaceTime, have been limited to Wi-Fi. With the introduction of iOS6, we will extend the availability of the preloaded FaceTime to our mobile broadband network for our Mobile Share data plans which were designed to make more data available to consumers. To be clear, customers will continue to be able to use FaceTime over Wi-Fi irrespective of the data plan they choose.
Legal or not, AT&T’s move definitely sounds anti-consumer. Not only could it force customers to purchase more expensive data plans, but it could also convince customers to shop around for another carrier. Sprint, for one, has announced that they won’t be charging for FaceTime over cellular. Verizon Wireless, the nation’s largest carrier, has remained mum on the subject.
As a long-time AT&T customer, this move could finally be enough for me to consider switching to Verizon or Sprint. If I do, the company won’t just be losing my business, but also that of four others that share my AT&T account. And this is coming from someone who probably won’t be affected by AT&T’s move. Rather, I’ve grown increasingly tired of AT&T’s attempts to nickel and dime us whenever they seek new revenues.
Will this convince you to switch? You too can sign a petition by clicking here.
First announced in July, AT&T Shared Plans will launch on Aug. 23.