People have been speculating at how AT&T was going to handle the expected influx of video-enabled calls, as Apple expands its FaceTime feature from Wi-Fi to cell networks. Ma Bell speaks, this time through an interpreter who calls himself AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel.
From the Wall Street Journal: “AT&T will offer FaceTime over cellular as an added benefit of our new Mobile Share data plans.”
You may recall that Mobile Share is AT&T’s plan that lets users share a pool of data across devices like phones and tablets. Anybody wanting to sign up for Mobile Share can do so beginning this Friday. If you’re a current AT&T unlimited plan holder, you’ll have to make a choice: keep unlimited (which really isn’t unlimited, because you get slowed down after you reach certain thresholds) or switch to the shared plan and most likely pay more scratch to watch your phone calls.
But hold on a second! The Hill reports that the new plan might violate FCC Rules.
Free Press and Public Knowledge argue that AT&T's plan violates the Federal Communications Commissions's Open Internet rules, which restrict mobile providers from blocking applications that compete with its voice services.
"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 John Bergmayer, senior staff attorney at Public Knowledge, in a statement. "'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."
According to the Wall Street Journal, Sprint does not plan to change its fees as FaceTime becomes accessible on its network. There’s no definitive word on which way Verizon will swing on this issue.