Three Groups File FCC Complaint Over AT&T FaceTime Policy

Three separate organizations are preparing to file an FCC complaint against AT&T’s recently announced FaceTime policies. Under the company’s new program cellular FaceTime capabilities can only be used by customers who take advantage of the cellular providers Mobile Share plans.

The three organizations filing the FCC complaint include Free Press, Public Knowledge, and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute. In the filing the groups claim:

“[AT&T’s] decision to block FaceTime unless a customer pays for voice and text minutes she doesn’t need is a clear violation of the FCC’s Open Internet rules.”

At the heart of the issue is that the program is unfairly biased towards the deaf and customers with foreign relatives. This is not the first time AT&T Wireless has been accused of bias against the deaf, the company was also accused of overcharging deaf customers for hearing impaired services.

AT&T under the iOS 6 platform will be the only national US carrier to restrict cellular FaceTime calls to more expensive cellular plans.

While some groups have argued that the decision goes against net neutrality, AT&T has argued that net neutrality only applies to downloaded apps, not preloaded ones.

Should the FCC agree with the complaint the organization could force AT&T Wireless to allow FaceTime calls over cellular data via less expensive and solo data plans.

AT&T has argued that FaceTime over cellular when offered to all data plan users could cause network congestion that ultimately hurts the company’s overall business. AT&T however already allows video calling over cellular through other third-party applications such as Skype.

Do you think AT&T Wireless is violating net neutrality rules and discriminating against people who truly need to use the FaceTime feature?