updated 01:52 pm EDT, Tue September 18, 2012
Restrictions may break FCC 'Open Internet' policies
Three organizations have announced their intent to file a complaint with the FCC over AT&T's FaceTime policies, which restrict cellular FaceTime to Mobile Share plans, reports say. Free Press, Public Knowledge, and the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute are all participating, arguing that 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." The groups add that while the policies hurt all of AT&T's customers, the deaf and people with foreign relatives are dealt an extra blow.
AT&T will, once iOS 6 is released tomorrow, be the only national carrier in the US to restrict cellular FaceTime to more expensive phone plans. The company has tried to defend the policy as within the bounds of net neutrality, claiming that neutrality rules only apply to downloaded apps, not preloaded ones. People have continued to criticize however, and the complaint to the FCC could potentially force AT&T's hand.
Beyond likely wanting to push iPhone owners to more expensive plans, the company may be worried about the network traffic FaceTime would generate as an omnipresent call option. At the same time it does allow other video calling apps, such as Skype.