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AT&T Facing Net Neutrality Complaint Over FaceTime Restrictions

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the your-packets-can-only-be-of-a-certain-shape dept.

AT&T 95

Today several public interest groups, including Public Knowledge, announced plans to file a net neutrality complaint with the FCC over AT&T's restriction of FaceTime on iPads and iPhones. Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood said, "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. It’s particularly outrageous that AT&T is requiring this for iPad users, given that this device isn’t even capable of making voice calls. AT&T's actions are incredibly harmful to all of its customers, including the deaf, immigrant families and others with relatives overseas, who depend on mobile video apps to communicate with friends and family." The groups have sent a letter (PDF) to AT&T asking them to reconsider their policy. The communications giant has previously responded to complaints by proclaiming their transparency and saying that charging more for being able to use FaceTime over mobile broadband is a "reasonable restriction."

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95 comments

Pffftttt...no surprise here (3, Insightful)

erp_consultant (2614861) | about a year and a half ago | (#41380663)

AT&T is going to gouge the consumer for every cent they can. The irony, or course, is that Apple trumpets the fact that you can now make Facetime calls over a 3G/4G connection instead of WiFi. But the owner of the pipes (AT&T) is going to restrict how much of it you can use.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year and a half ago | (#41380785)

Has anyone heard of any progress on the 'open standard' that FaceTime was promised as?

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

aitikin (909209) | about a year and a half ago | (#41380899)

I'm wondering about this too. I haven't bought, nor do I plan on buying an iPhone, but it'd be nice to have it be open like they claimed it'd be...

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

irving47 (73147) | about a year and a half ago | (#41381059)

It was an open standard much like quicktime streaming server was... but for whatever rea$on, other companies did not embrace the format/protocol.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

jo_ham (604554) | about a year and a half ago | (#41381385)

I wonder about this too. That was mentioned way back in the Jobs era when he demoed FaceTime on stage. So far there haven't been any further mentions about them opening it up. It's just H.264 with a private API, so it would hardly be a stretch for others to implement it assuming Apple did open up said API.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#41382337)

I think that that one was filed under "Poor Steve was hitting the Vicodin a bit hard toward the end" and forgotten about. Last anybody checked, it was some combination of SIP and XMPP carrying lumps of pure proprietary like shit through a goose...

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (3, Informative)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year and a half ago | (#41384857)

The calls are standard SIP w/ H.264 codecs (open?) but it uses a proprietary Apple-hosted HTTP-based lookup service to associate your phone number or email with your SIP URI. AFAIK they've released no details - that bit of info was gained from some reverse-engineering done on the Maemo forums.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year and a half ago | (#41380865)

Which makes me wonder if this in fact makes Apple look bad. My guess is that there will be some serious shouting going on behind the doors of meetings between AT&T and Apple over this. How can Apple promise a technology if another company goes and takes it away. That ain't right!

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (5, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#41381349)

Having worked for AT&T in the past I can guarantee you that their thoughts on this issue are "We don't give a shit and there's not a god damned thing apple can do about it."
AT&T is too big, too entrenched, too immovable. Imagine a company, larger than GM, that you were forced to buy your car from. You could not get a car from anyone else without moving. And then, even if you did move, you more than likely would end up in another area where you had to buy a car made by them. Even if you did end up somewhere that had a different company you could buy a car from, that company would be either selling you an ATT car with a different sticker on it, or at least large parts of the car had been made by ATT.. oh yea, and ATT gets to decide what they charge that other company for those parts and they charge a lot more to them, than they do to themselves so it costs more to buy it from someone else to.

That's what we're dealing with here. An entrenched, 100+ year old government sanctioned monopoly that has more clout in Washington you could possibly imagine. You may think "Well, these are cellphones! ATT doesn't own all the towers! I can get Sprint, or Verizon!" Oh yea? And how are those towers connected? How are the cellular regulations set? Who does congress listen to? You want to lay a new fiber trunk? Who owns the right of way? That's right, you need ATTs permission. ATT IS phone service in this country. Period. If apple wants to get away from ATT they are going to have to start communicating with gravitons or some shit... and even then its likely that ATT will complain to congress and get that form of communication rolled into a new telecom act giving them sole ownership of the relevant bosons or something.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (2)

ThermalRunaway (1766412) | about a year and a half ago | (#41382289)

I'd point to Level3 or (what used to be) Qwest or Global Grossing or other companies that own their own nation wide fiber network. Qwest bought a bunch of railroad right of ways and laid fiber all over the place. So no, all the back haul from towers isnt ATT.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#41382469)

Qwest is still US West (formerly AT&T). Again, everything goes back to AT&T.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (2)

ThermalRunaway (1766412) | about a year and a half ago | (#41382759)

Qwest bought USWest, which was a baby bell. Qwest was purchased by CenturyLink, which is not connected to ATT at all.... ya, it WAS all ATT back when the phone system was first rolled out, but it is completely inaccurate to say that now.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#41385829)

"Nation wide" is a marketing term. So they can run on their own fiber from New York to Los Angeles... Can they get to your business in downtown Chicago? No... AT&T OWNS Chicago. The whole thing. No matter what service you use to get your line in that city, the people you're getting it from are leasing at least part of it from AT&T. Probably most of it. And it's the same way everywhere.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

ThermalRunaway (1766412) | about a year and a half ago | (#41392595)

So you are saying the Comcast cable line into my condo is owned by ATT? And the Fiber line into my office that is owned by CenturyLink is actually owned by ATT? Not arguing for the sake of it, but seems a giant over statement to say ATT owns the last mile everywhere.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year and a half ago | (#41382607)

From AT&T iPhone

FaceTime over Cellular
To enable FaceTime over cellular on this account, contact AT&T at 611 or visit http://www.att.com/mywireless [att.com]

I you re-watch 2001 Space Odyssey, I think that pops up just shortly before he talks on the phone to his daughter on her birthday. No?

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41383077)

The problem is not that they have clout, but the fact that they are getting away with charrging you EXTRA because you use someone elses application.

It's like the water company charging you an extra amount for all water that was used on a garden. They've still delivered the same product, but they want to get extra money from what you use it for - possibly because they ALSO happen to sell "Garden Water", special water with nutrients for your garden.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year and a half ago | (#41386449)

att doesnt own all the lines.
att isnt a gov sanctioned monopoly
this is a perfect example of the blind vitriol /. has come to represent.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41380957)

So all you are asking for is unlimited bandwidth at no extra charge. Seems reasonable to me.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (2, Informative)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about a year and a half ago | (#41381911)

No, not even close. (I am curious where the word 'unlimited' came from...)

We pay for AT&T to deliver bits, we don't want AT&T to dictate what those bits can be used for and increase the price based on that.

Clear enough, or are you actually dumb enough to think AT&T has your best interests in mind?

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41382255)

(I am curious where the word 'unlimited' came from...)

"Unlimited" clearly refers to the size of the user's face. The users just want to be able to use this service no matter how large their face is... that's an outrage.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41383833)

e pay for AT&T to deliver bits, we don't want AT&T to dictate what those bits can be used for and increase the price based on that.

Nope, you pay AT&T for a data plan, not an open internet access plan. If you want one of those, they'll sell you a card you can plug into your laptop which will provide such services. Nobody sells an internet plan for cell phones, at least not right now.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (3, Informative)

zoloto (586738) | about a year and a half ago | (#41384073)

It's called an iPad data plan. Pick up a sim card for an iPad at an AT&T store, plug it into your phone and visit https://dcp2.att.com/OEPNDClient/ [att.com] to sign up for one using your iPhone's information. Next go to unlockit.co.nz [unlockit.co.nz] on your phone (using wifi, of course) and change your APN using their "Create APN" link on the bottom and pick the option "Broadband". Install the new APN profile and presto, your iPhone (or other device if you know how to change your APN) is now usable on an iPad data plan.

I've been using this since the iPad first came out a couple years ago and doing so on my iPhone 3GS and now 4/4S. You can use Skype/Facetime/Mumble or whatever you want all over the cell connection.

But yes, you do pay for an 'open internet access plan'. They don't block any sites or services - but they're trying to do just that with FaceTime and should (probably will) be smacked back by the FCC.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about a year and a half ago | (#41394581)

Nope, you pay AT&T for a data plan, not an open internet access plan.

This very difference is what is retarded.

Nobody sells an internet plan for cell phones, at least not right now.

Sure they do - T-Mo's prepaid plans are just that.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (2)

macs4all (973270) | about a year and a half ago | (#41383415)

So all you are asking for is unlimited bandwidth at no extra charge. Seems reasonable to me.

No, this is quite different.

Here they are saying that, even though you may be far under your data plan limit, because the packets contain a certain type of data, the common carrier thinks they have a right to pose an arbitrary restriction upon passing them through their network.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41383955)

So all you are asking for is unlimited bandwidth at no extra charge. Seems reasonable to me.

No, this is quite different.

Here they are saying that, even though you may be far under your data plan limit, because the packets contain a certain type of data, the common carrier thinks they have a right to pose an arbitrary restriction upon passing them through their network.

No, what they're saying is that you bought a data plan from them which is not an open internet access plan. And yes, they have the right to pose whatever restrictions they want on how you send data through their network. If you bought an internet plan from them it would be a different story, but you didn't. This isn't news until they impose this on people who buy the wireless network cards which come with an actual internet plan.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about a year and a half ago | (#41384463)

No, what they're saying is that you bought a data plan from them which is not an open internet access plan. And yes, they have the right to pose whatever restrictions they want on how you send data through their network.

Well that's just it... they don't –that's what net neutrality is about, it's about saying that networks do not have the right to discriminate about what kinds of data passes over their network.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41384799)

They have some obligation to provide open access, in trade for their exclusive right to use bits of the public radio spectrum. Playing games with the way they name their marketing packages doesn't relieve them of that obligation.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

macs4all (973270) | about a year and a half ago | (#41389495)

No, what they're saying is that you bought a data plan from them which is not an open internet access plan. And yes, they have the right to pose whatever restrictions they want on how you send data through their network.

Wait: Are you actually defending their "right" to do this?

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

cob666 (656740) | about a year and a half ago | (#41381585)

This is only because Apple built the mechanism to ALLOW the providers the ability to disable this feature. If Apple didn't have an option to disable this feature then the providers would have no way to charge extra for it. Of course people are going to say that if Apple did NOT provide this feature then providers wouldn't carry the new iPhone. That's total bullshit, no carrier that currently carries the iPhone is going to suddenly stop selling them, they're making way too much money off the hardware.

If AT&T was so concerned about video over IP then it would be doing the exact same thing with Skype.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

macs4all (973270) | about a year and a half ago | (#41383433)

This is only because Apple built the mechanism to ALLOW the providers the ability to disable this feature. If Apple didn't have an option to disable this feature then the providers would have no way to charge extra for it. Of course people are going to say that if Apple did NOT provide this feature then providers wouldn't carry the new iPhone. That's total bullshit, no carrier that currently carries the iPhone is going to suddenly stop selling them, they're making way too much money off the hardware. If AT&T was so concerned about video over IP then it would be doing the exact same thing with Skype.

Um, this is AT&T using deep packet inspection to deny certain content. There is no great conspiracy here between Apple and AT&T.

Do you really think that Apple wants this frickin' "Asterisk" next to their description of Cellular FaceTime???

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

zoloto (586738) | about a year and a half ago | (#41384081)

Actually they don't. Otherwise the 3G enabler from the Cydia app store wouldn't work as advertised.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

macs4all (973270) | about a year and a half ago | (#41390741)

Actually they don't. Otherwise the 3G enabler from the Cydia app store wouldn't work as advertised.

What does the 3G enabler have to do with whether Apple "is in agreement or collusion" with AT&T on the FaceTime restriction?

The 3G Enabler (and other, similar) hacks enable FaceTime over Cell for *every* Carrier (I think); because iOS 5 (and previous) doesn't allow FaceTime over Cell, for *any* Carrier. It has exactly nothing to do with ATT, per se. 3G Enabler (and similar) are about "unlocking" the feature, period, regardless of the Carrier . Since "tweaked" iOS devices are in the extreme minority, ATT likely hasn't worried about the negligible extra load on their network.

Now, enter iOS 6, and Apple feels that FT is ready for Cell. Now there's a zillion iPhone 3GS through 5 owners that can do this. At this point, it is worth it to ATT to do deep packet inspection to "police" their policy.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

cob666 (656740) | about a year and a half ago | (#41405283)

Um, this is AT&T using deep packet inspection to deny certain content. There is no great conspiracy here between Apple and AT&T

Not for this feature they don't, there is an option to enable FaceTime over cellular, the provider config is able to set this flag.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (3, Insightful)

macs4all (973270) | about a year and a half ago | (#41383359)

AT&T is going to gouge the consumer for every cent they can. The irony, or course, is that Apple trumpets the fact that you can now make Facetime calls over a 3G/4G connection instead of WiFi. But the owner of the pipes (AT&T) is going to restrict how much of it you can use.

Um, I know you don't keep up on such things; but Apple has been on carriers other than AT&T for some time now, and they don't all [theverge.com] pose restrictions on FaceTime [gottabemobile.com]. So it is not in the least disingenuous for Apple to tout that new feature in iOS 6.

Having said that, and as an AT&T customer myself, I think that what they are doing with both FaceTime AND Tethering should be frickin' illegal, even if it isn't. It's my data I'm paying for. AT&T SHOULD be a dumb pipe, nothing more, nothing less...

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

erp_consultant (2614861) | about a year and a half ago | (#41383471)

I'm well aware that there are other carriers but there is this small matter of a contract that I'd have to pay to get out of. Perhaps it wasn't clear in my post but I lay the blame for this not on Apple but on AT&T.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

macs4all (973270) | about a year and a half ago | (#41389451)

I'm well aware that there are other carriers but there is this small matter of a contract that I'd have to pay to get out of. Perhaps it wasn't clear in my post but I lay the blame for this not on Apple but on AT&T.

I am in a similar boat. But no, your post didn't make that too clear, sorry!

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41383747)

AT&T is going to gouge the consumer for every cent they can. The irony, or course, is that Apple trumpets the fact that you can now make Facetime calls over a 3G/4G connection instead of WiFi. But the owner of the pipes (AT&T) is going to restrict how much of it you can use.

AT&T doesn't sell you an internet service, they sell you a cell phone service with a "data plan". The FCC's rules only cover services billed as "internet access". While I do support some forms of 'net neutrality', I oppose regulations which remove all ability to offer limited access to internet services. If a company wants to offer, for example, an email-only service or a web-only service they ought to be able to offer that. They just need to be clear it's not a general internet plan.

Re:Pffftttt...no surprise here (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about a year and a half ago | (#41384487)

AT&T doesn't sell you an internet service, they sell you a cell phone service with a "data plan". The FCC's rules only cover services billed as "internet access". While I do support some forms of 'net neutrality', I oppose regulations which remove all ability to offer limited access to internet services. If a company wants to offer, for example, an email-only service or a web-only service they ought to be able to offer that. They just need to be clear it's not a general internet plan.

The problem with this interpretation is that you provide a get out clause for everyone. The second someone wants to drop net neutrality, they just go "oh, no, this isn't internet access, this is data tube access". You can not possibly allow that kind of exploitation, or suddenly there will not be a single service provider anywhere in the US that offers internet access.

get ready for it... (1)

hguorbray (967940) | about a year and a half ago | (#41380673)

when/if the FCC rules against AT&T you can expect their paid-for polititcians to accuse the FCC of hurting 'net neutrality' how they have exceeded their mandate and that they should be dismantled in favor of something more corporation-friendly

-I'm just sayin'

Uh no (1)

cultiv8 (1660093) | about a year and a half ago | (#41380695)

Net neutrality has nothing to do with the ability of AT&T's network to complete a call without dropping.

Re:Uh no (1)

macs4all (973270) | about a year and a half ago | (#41383461)

Net neutrality has nothing to do with the ability of AT&T's network to complete a call without dropping.

While I am nauseated by AT&T's decision to become the Bridge Troll for FaceTime, I want to take issue with your "call dropping" claim. I have an iPhone 4S (just as a point of reference), and at least in and around Indianapolis, IN, the only time I have problems with call-dropping at all is deep inside a certain Walmart I shop at, where there is zero to one "bar" showing.

Regulation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41380729)

While I'm not a fan of the Federal Government regulating everything to death I think this may be a place where it's needed. My thought is that you should be able to purchase data, voice, MMS/SMS or any combination of items or single item from that list. Second if you own your phone the cell company should be required to activate it and allow you to use it with any type of service from the previous list.

Relevant Mitt Romney Quote (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41380747)

Specifically, the FCC’s "Net Neutrality" regulation represents an Obama campaign promise fulfilled on behalf of certain special interests, but ultimately a “solution” in search of a problem. The government has now interjected itself in how networks will be constructed and managed, picked winners and losers in the marketplace, and determined how consumers will receive access to tomorrow’s new applications and services. The Obama Administration’s overreaching has replaced innovators and investors with Washington bureaucrats.

I think we've found our problem.

Re:Relevant Mitt Romney Quote (1)

cultiv8 (1660093) | about a year and a half ago | (#41380797)

The FCC?

Re:Relevant Mitt Romney Quote (2)

speedlaw (878924) | about a year and a half ago | (#41380891)

A wholly owned subsidiary. Did you miss the Comcast/Verizon split of the market ? he issue is that technology has finally merged data and "voice". This is the same problem your cable company has when you drop their offerings and subscribe to Netflix or Hulu. Much like the various **AA morons, you may expect the communications providers to fight a rear guard action to support the business model of 1980.

Re:Relevant Mitt Romney Quote (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41381215)

The FCC?

Obama quote -

Mitt it's the agency responsible for regulating telecommunication service in all 57 states.

Re:Relevant Mitt Romney Quote (2)

PPH (736903) | about a year and a half ago | (#41380877)

Obama campaign promise fulfilled on behalf of certain special interests,

Those special interests being customers who don't want to be gouged for services they don't need nor want?

I'd like cell phone networks to charge by data (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41380839)

I would like cell phone companies to charge entirely by data. Since the average person isn't tech savvy, they could say 1 minutes = x kilobytes. I would also like the option to use lower quality sound for my voice calls. SMS messages would cost close to nothing, as they should be.

Re:I'd like cell phone networks to charge by data (1)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#41380889)

The new plans are already unlimited minutes and SMS plus a data charge

Re:I'd like cell phone networks to charge by data (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41381005)

And somehow I still get less while paying more under such a scheme.

Re:I'd like cell phone networks to charge by data (1)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#41381079)

i really don't care if AT&T drives all the unlimited data people out. i'd rather have a more responsive network when i need it then pay for data i don't use since i'm on wifi almost everywhere

Re:I'd like cell phone networks to charge by data (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41381401)

what makes you think caps, usage based billing, and application specific billing will result in a more responsive network?

Re:I'd like cell phone networks to charge by data (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about a year and a half ago | (#41384509)

Easy – either people will pay for using more data, or they won't. In the case where they don't pay for it, the usage on the network goes down, and the network becomes more responsive. In the case where they do, the network owners have more money to upgrade the network, and the network becomes more responsive.

I honestly don't get why internet connections haven't been metered for years.

Re:I'd like cell phone networks to charge by data (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41411263)

Because you think they'll upgrade the networks, instead of paying a dividend. Or that they'll actually update their concept of "data usage" to something like the kind of applications that they *advertise* their network as being suitable for, versus what you can actually get away with using it for on data plans priced nowhere near where they'd be if it was POSSible to actually compete with them.

I blame this largely on the lack-of-future-planning, this-quarter's-bottom-line thinking so prevalent in the US. Maybe if they'd take a 10 or 20 year view, they'd seriously start upgrading network capacity in places where it's sub-standard.

Re:I'd like cell phone networks to charge by data (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about a year and a half ago | (#41412405)

Yes they would upgrade it, because they would finally have a motive to. Faster lines, means more capacity, means more ability for people to use it, means more bandwidth usage, means more income , means more ability to provide faster lines, means more capacity, means more ability for people to use it, means more bandwidth usage, means more income .

In short, if they provide faster lines, and the lines are metered, a faster line means they make more money. So it's win/win. The networks stop getting idiots using all available bandwidth because it's prohibitively expensive, and we get them working on faster networks because it causes them to get more income.

Re:I'd like cell phone networks to charge by data (1)

Moofie (22272) | about a year and a half ago | (#41382919)

Why would ATT give you a responsive network? You're paying for the crappy one now (so am I), but what are you going to do? Go to one of the other arms of the oligopoly?

Fighting to Preseve 1980 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41380841)

The issue is that technology has finally merged data and "voice". This is the same problem your cable company has when you drop their offerings and subscribe to Netflix or Hulu. Much like the various **AA morons, you may expect the communications providers to fight a rear guard action to support the business model of 1980.

I guess FaceTime -is- revolutionary (2, Insightful)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about a year and a half ago | (#41381009)

I guess FaceTime isrevolutionary after all.

Here I thought all this time that FaceTime is just another video chat technology, similar to ones that have been included with practically every webcam since the mid 90's, and similar to that which is available in practically every IM app (AIM, MSN, Yahoo!, etc.) and even facebook and Google Mail - except that it was only available for iOS devices and so if you wanted to video chat with a friend using FaceTime, they would have to go out and buy a compatible iDevice to make that happen, making it vastly less useful than the aforementioned.

But apparently I had it wrong;

AT&T's actions are incredibly harmful to all of its customers, including the deaf, immigrant families and others with relatives overseas, who depend on mobile video apps to communicate with friends and family.

I had no idea that these groups are unable to use the aforementioned alternatives. I didn't realize they are all forced to use iDevices on AT&T, and then forced to use FaceTime at that.

Seriously, though.. I'm all for filing the net neutrality complaint, but if these groups are so hard-hit, perhaps they should vote with their dollars and 1. not use AT&T where possible, 2. use an alternative video chat tech, perhaps preferably not on an iDevice in the first place unless Apple feels like opening FaceTime up to other platforms like they suggested they would.

Re:I guess FaceTime -is- revolutionary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41381249)

1. not use AT&T where possible

Which is the key point: Often times, it is not possible.

Despite what cell phone companies would have you believe, their own infrastructure is as much a clusterfuck as cable internet providers. Out here on the west coast, for example, Sprint is flawless for me. Reception sucks and data is abysmal to the point where I had to pick up a 4G modem from Verizon for when I'm visiting my family on the east coast.

One could, of course, make an argument about business, profits, consumers and all that - but infrastructure companies, such as AT&T, and at least in the US, were build on the dollars of taxpayers. In terms of government interference/lawsuits/etc., the water is muddied, sure, and they've only themselves to blame for it.

Re:I guess FaceTime -is- revolutionary (2)

jo_ham (604554) | about a year and a half ago | (#41381461)

FaceTime is different to those other methods though, since it just works (assuming you have a capable connection).

It's trivial for most tech-savvy people to set up and use video chatting software - like you say, it's hardly new. What Apple did with FaceTime was make it easy for your grandma to be able to video call her grandkids without having to worry about installing a webcam, or making sure the microphone works and is selected as the right input, or have to download an app for her tablet/phone and make an account.

All of those things are relatively trivial (especially if you walk her through them on the phone), but it can't compare to selecting your daughter's name in your contacts and tapping "FaceTime".

Like many of Apple's selling points, you can drop the "U" from the term "USP" since they are hardly unique - they just work well with minimal fuss.

I will take them to task for not opening the FaceTime protocol up though. Jobs announced on stage during the demo that they were running it as a beta for that time being and would then open it up for third parties later (with the release of Lion, which was when the beta ended). As it stands now you can only FaceTime between iOS devices and any Mac running Lion or Mountain Lion (or a Mac running Snow Leopard if you pay $0.99 to get the app from the store).

Re:I guess FaceTime -is- revolutionary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41387769)

FaceTime is different to those other methods though, since it just works (assuming you have a capable connection).

So does Google chat and it has for a loong time. On my phone, on my laptop, or where ever, a green video camera icon shows up next to a contacts name when they are capable of using video chat. You click it to make a video call. It just works and it works well, cellular, wireless, it doesn't matter.

Re:I guess FaceTime -is- revolutionary (1)

jo_ham (604554) | about a year and a half ago | (#41387917)

FaceTime is different to those other methods though, since it just works (assuming you have a capable connection).

So does Google chat and it has for a loong time. On my phone, on my laptop, or where ever, a green video camera icon shows up next to a contacts name when they are capable of using video chat. You click it to make a video call. It just works and it works well, cellular, wireless, it doesn't matter.

Where does my grandma click on that in her AOL email to make that work?

Re:I guess FaceTime -is- revolutionary (1)

nolife (233813) | about a year and a half ago | (#41394645)

Nice try. Facetime is an app, Google chat is an app. Either one when a contact is clicked will allow you to start up a video chat. In fact, with various Goolge apps on a comuter or a phone, you can click on a contact name basically anywhere and start a video chat right from there, inside your contacts, inside your SMS, from your phone call history, from inside Goolge lattitude, your contacts and so on. Have you ever actually used a video chat on an andriod phone? I don't think so if you are claiming Facetime is unique in that it is easy to use by anyone. Starting a video chat with Goolge is as easy as making a phone call or browsing your contacts. Hell, I can give a voice command from the home page on the phone and start one.

Re:I guess FaceTime -is- revolutionary (0)

jo_ham (604554) | about a year and a half ago | (#41394767)

Right, if grandma has a google account or a gmail account.

If she has an iOS device or a Mac she simply clicks "FaceTime" on her daughter's contact info.

I've used a couple of Android phones (a Galaxy Ace, an S2 and some ZTE atrocity) and they are easy to use... for those who didn't find video chatting with one of the already-established protocols difficult.

Put it this way; I've had AIM, gmail/google talk, skype and others pretty much since they were available (used to have ICQ too, but I lost that sometime in late 99). I've been using the various video features on them since it was feasible - mainly via AIM, since the bulk of my contacts were on there from the old days.

Since the rise of Android and iOS the number of new people contacting me via video chat via Android? Zero. The number using FaceTime? About 5 - my immediate family and friends who are not quite tech savvy enough to hunt down and set up video chatting themselves. Apple made it *dead simple* to use with virtually zero setup and thus people are using it.

Re:I guess FaceTime -is- revolutionary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41395617)

I'm not saying one is better than the other or more popular than the other which is the direction your argument seems to have gone. Your claim of Facetime being so much easier than anything else is very hard to believe. The both require some type of account associated to them that had to be setup at least once at some point when the phone was bought and/or powered on and they can both start a video chat with a single click on a contact.

Troll mod for the parent comment, really? (1)

jo_ham (604554) | about a year and a half ago | (#41503043)

Come on mods. At least a thinly veiled attempt at bias.

I'd be interested to hear what part of that comment is worthy of a troll mod.

Re:Troll mod for the parent comment, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41505413)

Because you keep trolling by keeping up with the nonsense that people "forgot to login" or that they are less trustworthy for not making an account they can't see the need for. Address arguments instead of trolling and you won't get modded troll.

Re:Troll mod for the parent comment, really? (0)

jo_ham (604554) | about a year and a half ago | (#41506345)

Because you keep trolling by keeping up with the nonsense that people "forgot to login" or that they are less trustworthy for not making an account they can't see the need for. Address arguments instead of trolling and you won't get modded troll.

Quote the exact part of the moderated comment where I said that. You can't? Right. Hence the query. My above comments do nothing *but* address the arguments.

The moderation system was not designed as a club to "punish" those you don't agree with because of other comments they have made in other threads - that's just textbook moderation abuse that says "I can't win this argument so I'll attempt to bury it", or "I don't like this person so I'll shut him up".

Perhaps that person should have "addressed arguments" rather than modding troll, eh?

Oh, and you forgot to log in, kid.

Re:Troll mod for the parent comment, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41523985)

No, see, every post that was modded troll was one where you said some nonsense about forgetting to log in. Since you probably know they don't have an account, it's just DIY hey on your part.

Calling people kid in addition is just unnecessary and if not trolling, certainly flamebait.

Address arguments and cut the nonsense about not having an account and you won't get modded troll.

By the way genius, I had to reply ac if you wanted a reply, since I am moderating.

Re:Troll mod for the parent comment, really? (1)

jo_ham (604554) | about a year and a half ago | (#41527341)

No, see, every post that was modded troll was one where you said some nonsense about forgetting to log in. Since you probably know they don't have an account, it's just DIY hey on your part.

Calling people kid in addition is just unnecessary and if not trolling, certainly flamebait.

Address arguments and cut the nonsense about not having an account and you won't get modded troll.

By the way genius, I had to reply ac if you wanted a reply, since I am moderating.

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3127165&cid=41394767 [slashdot.org] You mean this one? Point out the part in that comment where I mentioned not logging in. That was the comment I addressed in my query. I am still waiting for a reason why that particular comment (which does not mention brave AC posters not logging in) was modded troll.

Oh, and posting and moderating in the same discussion? Classy. Can't win your arguments on their merit eh? Never mind, kid.

Re:I guess FaceTime -is- revolutionary (3, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#41382693)

I had no idea that these groups are unable to use the aforementioned alternatives. I didn't realize they are all forced to use iDevices on AT&T, and then forced to use FaceTime at that.

Nope, but right now, they are forced to not use it.

Seriously, though.. I'm all for filing the net neutrality complaint, but if these groups are so hard-hit, perhaps they should vote with their dollars and 1. not use AT&T where possible, 2. use an alternative video chat tech,

AT&T didn't announce this before many people bought and tried it. The easy "solution" to this is for the government to step in and invalidate all AT&T consumer contracts. If you want to leave, do so. Any costs associated will be borne by AT&T alone. It's not a free market when your contract is not honored by the other side, and they make it more expensive to get out of when you are right than just pay it off. That's not capitalism anymore. Capitalism is about making a good product people want to buy, ATT is about lying about their shitty product, getting contracts, then announcing the hidden costs.

Re:I guess FaceTime -is- revolutionary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41387299)

Maybe carrier-pigeons will make a comeback....only mine would be trained to shit on ATT execs and government officials and would carry a small camera so I could post the vids on youtube.

Re:I guess FaceTime -is- revolutionary (1)

fa2k (881632) | about a year and a half ago | (#41384611)

FaceTime doesn't have to be revolutionary. I get it now, it's one of those slippery slope "First they came for the FaceTime users, and I didn't do anything, because I was not a FaceTime user" situations.

That's why you don't have to react strongly: as you said, anyone can use the alternatives (or, applying Apple's IP standards to itself: the products it ripped off). It's time to disinterestedly and quietly file a net neutrality complaint to make sure this doesn't suddenly happen to all video traffic, or all UDP datagrams on a Tuesday, or something else.

Re:I guess FaceTime -is- revolutionary (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about a year and a half ago | (#41386991)

You're actually trying to say that because of an anticompetitive money grab from a telco, that users should just shrug and go use something more complicated and requires far more configuration and hassle. Now that's revolutionary.

Here's a real revolutionary thought: AT&T gets the fuck out of the way, and lets a user do whatever the fuck they want with the bandwidth they pay for, whenever the fuck they want to do it.

Re:I guess FaceTime -is- revolutionary (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about a year and a half ago | (#41387575)

users should just shrug and go use something more complicated and requires far more configuration and hassle. Now that's revolutionary.

Really?
Step 1. Log into gmail.
Step 2. Click on other user.
Step 3. Click video chat button.

Step 1. Log into facebook.
Step 2. Click on other user.
Step 3. Click video chat button.

Step 1. Log into Yahoo.
Step 2. Click on other user.
Step 3. Click video chat button.

Step 1. Log into MSN.
Step 2. Click on other user.
Step 3. Click video chat button.

If you happen to use Android, add their IM (if the IM app itself doesn't do it for you). Now you can just go to your Contacts app and hit them up on Yahoo, AIM, whatever.

And no, I'm not saying 'users should just'. They should certainly do whatever the hell they want, and if AT&T blocks them unjustly from doing so - based on net neutrality principles - then bringing action against AT&T is one of those things they should certainly do if they want to.

But the groups bringing forth the action using an argument that rings of 'think of the children' when they name these groups - when these groups have alternatives available to them - is just sad. Perhaps they should have named Bob the security guy, too - since he can't use FaceTime to check out the halls that he covers with iPhones when using AT&T.

Re:I guess FaceTime -is- revolutionary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41389227)

Of the four solutions above, which work on an iPhone again?

Kdick (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41381069)

of 0pen-source. I burnt 0ut. I

It is about time (1)

kiriath (2670145) | about a year and a half ago | (#41381629)

So when is someone going to call the carriers out on all the other stupid crap they try to pull.

Communications will be free in the not so distant future, ubiquitous... the carriers are trying to fight it any way they can.

At some point the balance between bandwidth and availability will be such that you'll be paying for everything but the service. They'll charge you by the website visited, by the tweet sent, for every flipping bit... not the connectivity but the activity.

The carriers are battling to keep themselves from self inflicted foot wounds...

"We've got the biggest, fastest, best network... but we're sorry, we can't allow you to use it"

Restrictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41384275)

Restrictions: nice story

Rubbish. (3, Interesting)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | about a year and a half ago | (#41384357)

Go to someone else, AT&T isn't the only choice. People survived just fine on (now) $10 dumbphones, worst case.

People are so fucking entitled. Sorry, there is no "right to use stupid facetime on your hip Apple product".

All that will happen if you win is they'll just jack up prices for everyone to cover it. At least now it's just a tax on stupid people who pay $100+ a month on their cell phones so they can get a "cheap" $199 iPhone.

Why would you choose AT&T then? (1)

Alkonaut (604183) | about a year and a half ago | (#41384913)

I truly hope that A) you can buy apple products and use any carrier you like, and B) you can use at least 2 carriers in most areas of the US. Given this, why then buy a lousy "data plan" from AT&T when it obviously enforces ridiculous restrictions?

Re:Why would you choose AT&T then? (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about a year and a half ago | (#41387047)

Both good questions, but unfortunately, changing telcos in the US is hard because B isn't always true. In major cities you usually have two, if not three or more carriers that have reasonable service.

In the middle of the country you get one, or none. Those are the people getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop on this kind of stuff.

Not Net Neutrality problem? (1)

needsomemoola (966634) | about a year and a half ago | (#41386051)

Here's my question... does net neutrality even come into play here? AT&T doesn't block FaceTime traffic at all. You fan jailbreak your phone, install 3Gunrestrictor (or whatever it's called), and use FaceTime just fine over AT&T's network (I've done this). The blocking is in iOS. I don't know the exact mechanism, but once you pay AT&T, they somehow have the keys to toggle FT over cellular on your device.

So, if this is the case (it's locked locally in device, AT&T with the keys from Apple), it seems to me that AT&T can successfully argue that this is not a net neutrality conflict since the it's the device, not the network or network blocking, preventing the service. That is unless net neutrality rules are very loosely worded, in which case it will be a battle of the lawyers over interpretation I guess (?).

I'd switch from AT&T if they weren't the only carrier with the iPhone on GSM (voice+data) and LTE in the US.

I love being a consumer in a world where corporations work for the customer. Wait, that was just a dream.

This is an unlawful restriction (1)

Khyber (864651) | about a year and a half ago | (#41387711)

Read anti-tying provisions of the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act.

This shit is illegal and you people are too scared to step up and sue.

If Apple Cared (1)

jsm18 (1317959) | about a year and a half ago | (#41389315)

I understand that AT&T is trying to argue that since FaceTime is a bundled app, they can restrict it however they like. If Apple cared, they could just make a FaceTime Pro app that is available in the app store and tell AT&T to go pound sand.

I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41392603)

APL users are use to paying up the ass for being on the "priviledged" platform, even to the tune of 30% more than everyone else (see Dropbox), in the most restrictive ecosystem (along with a cell carrier that's equally restrictive)?

Why are they complaining now?

att blocking face time on 3g (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41412497)

yeah att wont let me use face time on 3g even though i pay for data and still cant use it !!! i dont want a family share plan as its just me !!! its my data att i pay for it let me use facetime or lose another customer for live !!!!! will never use another att service period !! be fair att to your customers or go down like netflix did !!!!!

att blocking facetime on 3g (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41412825)

att is unfair to its regular data plan users !!! its our data att ... we pay for it regardless of which plan we are on !!! facetime on 3g or lose customers att !!!!!1

att blocks facetime on cellular (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41417037)

yeah att is blocking face time on 3g !!!! that not fair att !!!! all att customers not on the family share data plans cant use one of iphones greatest features facetime!!!! apple could make facetime an app in itunes and att customers could then download it and use it getting around att restrictions.http://facetimefaceplant.tumblr.com/

No wiretapping, please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41423247)

I hope FCC gets the balls, fines AT&T big time, and the case gets resolved with AT&T being guilty and not with some 'settled out of court for undisclosed amount'.

If I pay for a telephone line and the phone company tells me what type of conversations I can or cannot have over the telephone line that I get from them, they should be in a big trouble or illegally wiretapping my conversations. They should not be allowed to listen in what I'm talking about. It's my business and as long as I'm withing my allotted minutes, I should be able to carry any conversations without AT&T's approval. Same for the web access, it's not their fucking business what I'm sending, what protocol I'm using. As long as I'm withing my X-GB of artificial limit that they decided to impose, I should be able to send ANYTHING.

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