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AT&T: Criticism of Facetime Move 'Kneejerk Reaction'
Says Blocking Facetime Not Violation Because it was Pre-Loaded
by Karl Bode 12:25PM Wednesday Aug 22 2012
AT&T has responded to the controversy surrounding their decision to block Facetime on iPhone over cellular unless you sign up for one of the company's more costly shared data plans. In the slightly-condescending way only some AT&T executives can, Bob Quinn at the AT&T policy blog insists that people criticizing AT&T for their decision are being "knee jerk" reactionaries, and that in no way does AT&T's move violate network neutrality rules (did you expect them to say something else?). Quinn highlights that the FCC's rules (which we've noted are intentionally weak) only really prohibit two things:
quote:
Click for full size
Providers of mobile broadband Internet access service are subject to two net neutrality requirements: (1) a transparency requirement pursuant to which they must disclose accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of their broadband Internet access services; and (2) a no-blocking requirement under which they are prohibited, subject to reasonable network management, from blocking applications that compete with the provider’s voice or video telephony services.
At first blush, it would certainly look like AT&T's violating the second, since video chat could be seen as a competitor to AT&T's own voice services. How does Quinn wiggle around this? By insisting it's not a network neutrality violation because Facetime was preloaded:
quote:
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.
Got that? AT&T obviously thinks there's a loophole nobody else has even noticed in the wording of the FCC's neutrality rules that allows them to discriminate against apps if they're pre-installed, but not if they're downloaded after the fact. Consumer Groups like Free Press and Public Knowledge were quick to point out to AT&T that the FCC's rules make no such qualifications.

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LightS
Premium
join:2005-12-17
Greenville, TX

AT&T knows the rules are weak

That's why they chose to find a way around it by insisting that "preloaded" apps are exempt, due to the relatively (incredibly) weak rules set in place by the FCC.

The death star does quite a few things to try and usher people away from their grandfathered unlimited plans... tethering after they hit the 2gb limit, and now this? Ridiculous.

ArrayList
netbus developer
Premium
join:2005-03-19
Evanston, IL

Re: AT&T knows the rules are weak

so, all apple needs to do is make facetime downloadable and stop preloading it?

LightS
Premium
join:2005-12-17
Greenville, TX

Re: AT&T knows the rules are weak

According to AT&T's current logic, that seems to be a viable solution.

Morac
Cat god

join:2001-08-30
Riverside, NJ
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast
said by ArrayList:

so, all apple needs to do is make facetime downloadable and stop preloading it?

I propose Apple add a "FaceTime 3G unlock" app to the store that simply disables AT&T's FaceTime block. According to AT&T's logic they wouldn't be able to block that.

Of course that will never happen.
--
The Comcast Disney Avatar has been retired.
en103

join:2011-05-02
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

1 recommendation

Nice...

Way to let your lawyers kill your potential new sales for next iPhone, and probably a lot of existing customers.

AT&T is doing this 'because we can'. Pure money grab, and at the same time, this is effectively just another bit of salt that AT&T is pouring in customer's wounds.

Admit it AT&T - you don't want customer's to purchase iPhones as the profit is very low, and since many still will purchase them, this is your recourse on how to recoup any cost, and bring it up to the profit model of your other devices.

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Re: Nice...

said by en103:

Admit it AT&T - you don't want customer's to purchase iPhones as the profit is very low, and since many still will purchase them, this is your recourse on how to recoup any cost, and bring it up to the profit model of your other devices.

You may have a point about AT&T discouraging iPhone sales since their agreement with Apple has high subsidization costs. They have been heavily marketing Android lately with better deals to get users away from Apple.

And since Skype and other FaceTime-like apps are allowed, this may just be one more way to get users to NOT buy iPhones.
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en103

join:2011-05-02

Re: Nice...

Three words... follow the money.

bobjohnson
Premium
join:2007-02-03
Orlando, FL
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
·T-Mobile US
·Sprint Mobile Br..
said by cnn:

Meanwhile, disappointing iPhone sales proved to be a strangely good thing for both Verizon and AT&T's bottom lines. Since Apple forces carriers to pay the highest up front subsidies in the smartphone business, selling fewer iPhones helps boost cell phone companies' profit margins.

»money.cnn.com/2012/04/24/technol···ndex.htm

I can video call all day on Google Talk or Skype with my Photon... I think they are trying to find ways to get customers to buy something else... Apple is making the investors nervous now. Never a good thing.
--

xsid

join:2012-08-23
said by en103:

Admit it AT&T - you don't want customer's to purchase iPhones as the profit is very low, and since many still will purchase them, this is your recourse on how to recoup any cost, and bring it up to the profit model of your other devices.

ATT wants usage of their network at the highest profitability. I doubt the phone matters (apple will sell because it is apple). Not sure I agree they will kill iphone sales...foolish people are completely convinced that the fruit is the only way to go (right or wrong, they will pay a fortune for what they perceive is "trouble free" regardless of the carrier). Pps I talk to think phone OS before phone (apple = iphone) before vendor (apple, htc, moto, samsung, etc) and then consider the carrier and price and internally weight accordingly according to the options available.

Nevertheless, the iphone thing should die at some point...a brand with one product (just like MAC vs PC war of the past)

jseymour

join:2009-12-11
Waterford, MI

By "AT&T"s Reasoning...

Let's say the Evil Empire (that's "AT&T," btw) started their own subscription video streaming service, similar to Netflix or Hulu Plus. It would of course be hideously expensive (remember who we're talking about), so "AT&T" wireless customers would be loath to subscribe to it. All "AT&T" would have to do to "encourage" customers to buy their streaming subscription, rather than competitors', is provide Netflix and Hulu Plus apps with their wireless devices, then demand users pay an extra fee to be able to use them.

Right.

Jim

Morac
Cat god

join:2001-08-30
Riverside, NJ
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: By "AT&T"s Reasoning...

Yes. According to AT&T, if the app is pre-loaded on the phone, then the app is provided by AT&T and they can block it.

It would be interesting to see how they justify that on people who pay full price for their phones and aren't under contract.
--
The Comcast Disney Avatar has been retired.
en103

join:2011-05-02

Re: By "AT&T"s Reasoning...

I agree... also, what if I had a laptop, and attempted to use a cell-stick.
AT&T can't block that and force me to a 'shared plan', can they ?
xsid

join:2012-08-23

Re: By "AT&T"s Reasoning...

Why not? What does your contract say?
bnceo

join:2007-10-11
Bel Air, MD

What about AT&T Preloaded Apps?

So I guess we can't use AT&T U-Verse TV app on Android devices. I mean, it's preloaded. Must get a subscription for that.

Oh, it's different. Because it's AT&T? Hmm.

Utter malarkey
xsid

join:2012-08-23

Re: What about AT&T Preloaded Apps?

If it is preloaded, why not? It would be the same as FaceTime maybe.

TriForce

join:2008-05-27
Chico, CA

Excuses, excuses...

at&t just keeps making up excuses to blame users instead of improving their network to keep up with the service they claim to sell.

inteller
Sociopaths always win.

join:2003-12-08
Tulsa, OK

so in other words

All Apple has to do is NOT ship ATT iPhones with Facetime, but provide a link to download it which would then put ATT in violation of said clause.

We'll see what Apple does here, I have a feeling they are going to start selling unlocked iPhones more aggressively to thwart BS like this.
--
"WHEN THE LAUGH TRACK STARTS THEN THE FUN STARTS!"

djrobx
Premium
join:2000-05-31
Valencia, CA
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·VOIPO

Re: so in other words

We'll see what Apple does here, I have a feeling they are going to start selling unlocked iPhones more aggressively to thwart BS like this.

Maybe. Apple seems to be pretty careful about not rocking AT&T's boat too much.

This isn't much different than how carriers have the control to enable and disable the tethering feature.
--
AT&T U-Hearse - RIP Unlimited Internet 1995-2011
Rethink Billable.
xsid

join:2012-08-23
Keep in mind, these are two GIANT companies getting in bed with each other (along with every other carrier).

Apple has never competed with PCs for a reason. My hunch is that ppl won't ultimately pay Apples prices without a "free or cheaper" version of the device. It don't seem likely given their IPOD and MAC pricing...they NEVER decrease or are discounted.

Funny story...Apple invited a few carriers from Alaska telling them that they had exclusive licenses...of course they all saw each other on the plane and realized Apple was just another company trying to get the most $ per carrier.

What does Apple really have to gain by trying to charge their full retail?

They are making too much money from carriers, but it would be great to see them market directly!

tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:4

time to go to pay by the byte

for everything.

inteller
Sociopaths always win.

join:2003-12-08
Tulsa, OK

Re: time to go to pay by the byte

no, time to go to Straight Talk, NET10, Simple Mobile, etc and take ATTs customer base away from them. Once they become a dumb pipe wholesaler to these companies, we will see genuine competition.
--
"WHEN THE LAUGH TRACK STARTS THEN THE FUN STARTS!"

Morac
Cat god

join:2001-08-30
Riverside, NJ
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: time to go to pay by the byte

said by inteller:

no, time to go to Straight Talk, NET10, Simple Mobile, etc and take ATTs customer base away from them. Once they become a dumb pipe wholesaler to these companies, we will see genuine competition.

What really makes no sense is that Straight Talk uses AT&T's network (for their GSM phones). Granted Straight Talk users who use "too much" of their "unlimited" data will get a phone call (the wording of the terms say unlimited data is restricted to email and web browsing).
--
The Comcast Disney Avatar has been retired.

inteller
Sociopaths always win.

join:2003-12-08
Tulsa, OK

Re: time to go to pay by the byte

they don't analyze what you are doing with your data, and you just have to go through their question gauntlet to avoid that. Plus, lately users have reported getting throttled instead of cut off. I can live with throttling, what I can't abide by is people telling me how and when I should use certain features on my phone.
--
"WHEN THE LAUGH TRACK STARTS THEN THE FUN STARTS!"

JasonOD

@comcast.net
No, just kill off unlimited. It's been gone long enough. Defined buckets + overages are perfect for carriers because users will almost never use 100% of the bandwidth they're paying for.

RARPSL

join:1999-12-08
Suffern, NY

Re: time to go to pay by the byte

said by JasonOD :

No, just kill off unlimited. It's been gone long enough. Defined buckets + overages are perfect for carriers because users will almost never use 100% of the bandwidth they're paying for.

So long as a user has a bucket+overage contract, they should NOT need to pay extra to be allowed to tether (since any load they place on the network comes out of their bundle). The same applies to FaceTime (you are clocked on your usage). It is only an unlimited contract that MIGHT overload the network if you use FaceTime or tether.

Morac
Cat god

join:2001-08-30
Riverside, NJ
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: time to go to pay by the byte

said by RARPSL:

So long as a user has a bucket+overage contract, they should NOT need to pay extra to be allowed to tether (since any load they place on the network comes out of their bundle). The same applies to FaceTime (you are clocked on your usage). It is only an unlimited contract that MIGHT overload the network if you use FaceTime or tether.

And since unlimited contract users are throttled if they use too much data, even that's not an issue since the throttled data speeds aren't good enough for FaceTime anyway.
--
The Comcast Disney Avatar has been retired.
xsid

join:2012-08-23
maybe, but only because we are finally admitting that there is no competition (feds failed)? or are we admitting the technology doesn't exist? does it differ based on the network topology? (maybe a business failure)

tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:4
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: time to go to pay by the byte

What does it have to do with competition?
you can have useage based plans from multiple competitors and even different plans from one, some might buy the $50 base that has higher cost per byte overages, while other might choose the $200 base with massive bandwidth wrapped in and fair low per byte overages.
The only admissions is the voice and text use so little bandwidth they they are not the 2 main expences A base fee to grow and maintain the plant coverage, and a per byte charge to pay and increase the capacity, for which the need will grow, recognizing available frequentcies are limited increased useage at some point means splitting cells, more backhaul, more locations(rent, liability, and siteing expense.)
all these effect pricing and availablity wether there a 2 or 200 companies side by side, and more that 1 means splitting the available consumers which changes the market cost from a simple cost plus%.

A smart single source in a open market will not charge the highest price but only a price that would make it not worthwhile for others to enter that local market.
georgeglass5

join:2010-06-07
New York, NY

Skype over 3G

not good enough? Used yahoo video call that worked fine, as well.

Morac
Cat god

join:2001-08-30
Riverside, NJ
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: Skype over 3G

said by georgeglass5:

not good enough? Used yahoo video call that worked fine, as well.

Skype is fine, but you need to leave it running in the background all the time (using Apple's VOIP service) to receive calls, which prevents the phone from going to sleep and drains the battery.

FaceTime uses push notifications. It only activates and runs when the user responds to an incoming FaceTime request. So the phone can go to sleep and all that other good stuff.

Basically FaceTime works like a normal phone (i.e connection is only active when "on a call"), while Skype works like an instant messenger program (connection is always active). So while Skype is more widely available, FaceTime is "mobile friendly".
--
The Comcast Disney Avatar has been retired.

gergles
Greg
Premium
join:2003-05-30
New York, NY

More wonder from the geniuses at AT&T

Hey guys, don't worry, as long as everyone switches to giving us more money for the same thing, the network will magically be able to handle it.

newview
Ex .. Ex .. Exactly
Premium
join:2001-10-01
Parsonsburg, MD
kudos:1

Take action at Freepress.net

Stop AT&T's Latest Attack on Net Neutrality
»act.freepress.net/sign/facetime/
axus

join:2001-06-18
Washington, DC

If Apple is OK with it, what's the problem?

OK, obviously it's screwing over their customers. But, if Apple wants their application to work this way, then they aren't being harmed by AT&T.

I wonder, is the blocking happening at the tower or on the phone?
en103

join:2011-05-02
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

Re: If Apple is OK with it, what's the problem?

Probably phone level (client/server for FaceTime).
I would actually expect that AT&T is smarter than this and is doing an App level and/or protocol level block. Eg. iPhone + plan = x means no 3g at the device level. If this is at a network level, then they'd have a lot of work. In theory, this would block FaceTime only on iOS devices such as iPhone/iPad.

Apple doesn't really care, and has left these decisions to the carrier (I think an attempt at changing the overall App model into a 'service' model) which is what AT&T wants anyway (App tolls).

Why I have a concern on this - is that this allows carriers to filter apps that they feel they 'own', and can charge fees on.
xsid

join:2012-08-23

Re: If Apple is OK with it, what's the problem?

This is/was Ed Whitacre's argument all along. Google is gonna pay ATT if they want ATT's internet customer's to have the ability to connect to them.

Since it didn't work on the wireline side, they are playing it out on the wireless side in a more gentle and poitically correct level!
MrHappy316
Wish I had my tank
Premium
join:2003-01-02
Monterey, CA

Same as Dell

Same explanation Dell gives when you buy a system and want a refund for the Windows OS they preloaded cause you loaded Linux as soon as you got the system. Dell then responds oh we provided it for free so you cannot get a refund.
xsid

join:2012-08-23

Re: Same as Dell

How so?

ATT is selling handsets (computers/phones) and service (mandatory bundle). Sounds like the ATT back in the 1970's "can't use our phone network without our approved device, would you like it in black or black?"

Dell is selling computers (no required services).

Dell loads crap on their computers because customers need an OS or they won't buy and/or they are paid to (as in junk programs (apps in cellphone speak))

ATT could sell phones with or without OS's and not care and be similar to Dell.

I don't get how forcing a pricing of a service (Facetime, really moble data usage) is somehow different in network usage pricing because it is pre-installed. Why do not they not go ahead and charge a price for email since there is a preinstalled app for that?

I guess I just don't get it.
stufried
Premium
join:2003-10-13

Re: Same as Dell

It is not a mandatory bundle. You can go into ATT with your own handset and get activated with service. The classic example is a Galaxy Nexus purchased directly from Google.