US iPhone carrier AT&T has released a statement answering to criticism regarding its choice to charge a hefty fee for FaceTime calls over a cellular connection.
AT&T regards Apple’s FaceTime as “a video chat application that has been pre-loaded onto every AT&T iPhone since the introduction of iPhone 4.”
The operator says
everyone has been reaping its benefits over Wi-Fi for several years, adding that “AT&T does not have a similar preloaded video chat app that competes with FaceTime or any other preloaded video chat application.”
“Nonetheless, in another knee jerk reaction, some groups have rushed to judgment and claimed that AT&T’s plans will violate the FCC’s net neutrality rules,” said the carrier. “Those arguments are wrong,” AT&T believes.
The US wireless operator points out that “the FCC’s net neutrality rules do not regulate the availability to customers of applications that are preloaded on phones.”
Acknowledging that the rules say nothing about providers being required to make available any preloaded apps, AT&T notes that “they address whether customers are able to download apps that compete with our voice or video telephony services.”
It then proceeds to outline that “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.”
The carrier encourages customers to go to their app store on their device and type “video chat.”
“Therefore, there is no net neutrality violation,” says AT&T.
Basically, what AT&T is saying is that, had FaceTime been a downloadable application, the operator would be forced by the FCC Net Neutrality rules to allow it to work on its airwaves without restrictions.
The debate is far from over. In fact, we should expect it to intensify. AT&T is basically saying that a preloaded app is different from a downloaded app.