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AT&T Defends Controversial FaceTime Policy Following Widespread Backlash 220

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the ceo-demands-more-blood dept.
zacharye writes "AT&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."
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AT&T Defends Controversial FaceTime Policy Following Widespread Backlash

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  • by ScooterComputer (10306) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @11:00AM (#41081287)

    That "defense" seems to be worse than the Dallas Cowboys Defense of last year (excepting DeMarcus Ware...he's the MAN!). So AT&T -ADMITS- they're blocking capriciously and discriminatively, but then says "We're doing nothing wrong."?

    I'm not sure what violating net neutrality looks like then, in these guys' minds. So Comcast can block Hulu, that's just fine, but only allow it for their Triple Play customers, since they're trying to reduce congestion???

    BZZZZZZT! Wrong answer, jerk.

  • One Big Family (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sponge Bath (413667) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @11:01AM (#41081299)

    AT&T wants to dictate how you use the data transfer you paid for by charging even more for specific applications. This plan only works if AT&T colludes with other carriers to do the same. Now we see if the industry wide collusion happens and if the government chooses to do anything about it.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @11:09AM (#41081395)

    Bullshit!
    They just don't want to bother upgrading, it is more profitable to rate limit and jack up prices.

  • by shadowrat (1069614) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @11:16AM (#41081489)
    If that fails, you could try one of the complaint departments AT&T actually listens to.

    http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/index.html [verizonwireless.com]
    http://www.t-mobile.com/ [t-mobile.com]
    http://shop.sprint.com/mysprint/shop/phone_wall.jsp?filterString=apple&isDeeplinked=true&INTNAV=ATG:HE:iPhones [sprint.com]
  • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @11:23AM (#41081609)

    Their margins are ridiculous, they could spend 2x more on infrastructure than they do and still be profitable. They need to quit blaming their own success for their horrible service, man up, and make a real investment in their network. Stupid thing is, they'd probably see their profits go up in the long term, but it might be a couple years out, maybe even *gasp* four or five before it hits break even! Inconceivable from a business prospective!

  • by drcagn (715012) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @11:29AM (#41081699) Homepage

    Am I reading this right?

    AT&T institutes a policy that is so terrible, it has created a perception in the public that it might even be illegal. So instead of coming up with better ways to satisfy your customers, AT&T decides to defend their terrible policies by insisting "yes, this is legal!"? It's like the entire point went right over your heads. Where on Earth is your PR team?

    Your customers all know that "data is data" and there's no technical reason to disallow FaceTime on all your old plans (you know those plans all of your long-time LOYAL customers are on). Your customers know that you are simply placing arbitrary restrictions on those data plans to creating a differentiating factor in your shared data plans. We are not stupid.

    I switched to AT&T when the first iPhone was released, and I have stayed on board even after Apple has added new carriers, despite the fact that over time AT&T has gotten worse and worse about my unlimited data plan. Apple and the extremely Apple loyal fanbase has helped AT&T in creating the near-duopoly mobile carrier market we have today. Apple hit it big with the iPhone because, like all of their products, they go above and beyond to make elegant products, take care of their customers in any way they can, and foster the greatest experiences possible for their platform. If you provided the same experience as a carrier, you would have the iPhone market completely cornered. But instead you sacrifice all that potential just to squeeze more money out of the people who remain on your network. That's poor planning and, simply put, you're all stupid for it.

  • by jemtallon (1125407) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @11:31AM (#41081749) Journal
    This whole post smells of controversy where there isn't one. AT&T was worried their network couldn't handle the load if the future suddenly arrived and everyone was video calling each other. So years ago they blocked 2-way video apps over their network (but not over wifi cause who cares). They've since realized this isn't the Jetsons so they're going to slowly allow that traffic through to see if it bites them in the ass. Assuming the novelty wears off pretty quickly for most users and their network doesn't take a dump in the mean time, they'll likely open it up entirely. It's not menacing and he isn't "sneering" - it's an issue of conservation. They have a limited number of resources that they've planned for and sudden disruptions to that plan can ruin their business. He's just a businessman - apply Hanlon's razor if you must but don't put your negative shit on him. AT&T isn't violating your rights, they don't care what software you use, and we aren't heading down any "bad road." Well, at least not from this. Go fear-monger elsewhere.

    --
    -1 karma, +1 righteousness
  • Does not compute (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quacking duck (607555) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @11:45AM (#41081893)

    Their thinking simply doesn't make any sense.

    - Androids are outselling iPhones (globally, maybe not AT&T specifically)
    - iPhones currently don't have real 4G, which is over 3x faster than 3G [pcworld.com] on AT&T's network
    - Android users now consume more data [nielsen.com], faster, and put more strain on the wireless network at any given time, compared to iPhone users
    - Skype is available on all major platforms and works over even 3G; quality is surely better on 4G/LTE.

    And yet, they're blocking Facetime "out of an overriding concern for the impact this expansion may have on our network and the overall customer experience"??

    Logic fail, AT&T. Just admit you're being greedy bastards and think iPhone users are more easily ripped off, that way you'll just be extortionists without also being liars.

  • by berashith (222128) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @11:56AM (#41082065)

    It is truly amazing how much more money can be made when you try to cater to what your customers want instead of screw the customer over and make them regret every penny they give you.

  • by Analog Penguin (550933) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @12:33PM (#41082553)
    The controversy is that this is the latest in a long line of examples of AT&T bitching about people overburdening their poor network with their evil data-hogging ways instead of spending a goddamn dime to upgrade it from its current twine-and-tin-can infrastructure into something that can handle the needs of a 21st-century world superpower.
  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @12:47PM (#41082771)
    You misunderstand the situation. I don't want to take the blame off the cellular industry, it IS their fault... but you have to understand how the infrastructure works.

    I doubt ATT is having a problem in places like downtown chicago. There are A LOT of customers in that area, and A LOT of data infrastructure running everywhere. Data is cheap, and customers are plentiful.

    You get out to rural Montana, and to feed a cell tower it might cost you upwards of a few million dollars to run a single T1 to it. And that tower on average only serves 100 or so customers. Upgrading that tower is not profitable at all. The obvious solution is not having 4G service there. But then your biggest competitor comes along and starts splashing their map of 4G coverage all over the place... and your marketing department goes into a tizzy "WE HAVE TO SELL 4G!!!! WE LOOK LIKE CHUMPS!" then you have the feds coming in, demanding rural broadband... well crap... ok, we have 4G there. It'll only work for 4 customers at a time but it's there...

    Again, it's the industry as a wholes fault. But it's not as cut and dry as "They're just too lazy"
  • by jeko (179919) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @01:46PM (#41083631)

    Everything you just said is valid, and parallels the situation with another utility, namely the power grid. All of the arguments against why we can't have rural cell coverage were previously used to explain why we can't have a rural electrical grid.

    The answer turned out to be that government needed to set up power companies, and that utilities needed to be publicly-owned or closely watched and directed (i.e., regulated). Initiatives like the Tennessee Valley Authority [wikipedia.org] meant that my grandparents got to trade in their lanterns and candles for electric lights.

    The simple fact is that there are a few core infrastructure industries that need to be either publicly-held (power, water, sanitation, mail) or kept on a very, very tight leash (Banking, see "Glass-Steagal").

    AT&T is making a very convincing case that communications infrastructure -- which was already developed and built by tax dollars -- needs to be another publicly-held infrastructure. Here's how you know this is true.

    Every time some local municipality gets together and starts putting up their own wreless network, the telecom lobbyists always descend like locusts screaming that "It's not fair to make us compete against government entities!" What they're saying is that private companies in this industry, with their need for profit, can't ever be as efficient as a public effort. All that means is that as technology has progressed, we've simply discovered another industry that operates as a classic "market failure."

       

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