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AT&T defends controversial FaceTime policy following widespread backlash

August 22nd, 2012 at 9:55 AM

AT&T (T) is wasting no time hitting back at critics of its decision to limit the use of popular video chat app FaceTime over its cellular network to users who sign up for its shared data plans. In a post on the company’s official public policy blog on Wednesday, AT&T chief privacy officer Bob Quinn sneered at criticisms that restricting FaceTime over cellular to shared data plans violates the Federal Communications Commission’s network neutrality rules for wireless networks.

“The FCC’s net neutrality rules do not regulate the availability to customers of applications that are preloaded on phones,” he wrote. “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.)”

Quinn went on to say that limiting FaceTime to shared plans isn’t about forcing customers onto more expensive wireless plans, but is instead about taking care of AT&T’s seemingly fragile wireless network.

“We are broadening our customers’ ability to use the preloaded version of FaceTime but limiting it in this manner to our newly developed AT&T Mobile Share data plans out of an overriding concern for the impact this expansion may have on our network and the overall customer experience,” he noted.

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