If FaceTime were video with no voice would AT&T block it?

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The FCC’s Net Neutrality rules prevent MSOs (cable TV companies) and phone companies from banning competing services on their networks.

Apples recent decision to open up its FaceTime video chat app to 3G means that FaceTime will soon be able to be used on iPhones over the AT&T (or Verizon or Sprint) phone network without the need to be connected to wifi.

AT&T announced and defends a quick decision they made to allow their iPhone customers to use Facetime over their network but only if they purchase or shift to the AT&T shared data plans.

Well – that will mean many who are not on those plans or don’t wish to change plans will not be able to use FaceTime over cellular and still enjoy it only when connected to wifi and by that have limited use of their iPhone capabilities because they are blocked by AT&T.

Perhaps AT&T can take whatever marketing or pricing decision they want and perhaps it has something to do with fear of network congestion as well but the main issue here is whether AT&Ts decision is a violation of the Net Neutrality rules?  Is AT&T preventing a competing service from operating on its network?

AT&Ts claim: there is no violation as a) AT&T does not have its own video chat service and b) that AT&T does not block download of any video chat applications with some distinction between pre-loaded apps like FaceTime and downloadable apps.

I will let the pundits argue these facts but the one issue I would like to address is whether the fact that AT&T does not have video chat means they don’t compete with FaceTime (or other video chat apps)?  Video chat includes voice and voice (VoIP technology in all video chat cases) is AT&Ts business (OK – some will argue it is becoming data etc but lets stick with voice for now) and certainly we can see a competitive service.

If FaceTime would work with an AT&T voice call over its cellular network and the FaceTime app would only deliver the images without its own voice would AT&T block it or require certain plans?

I will leave it at that. Happy to hear other or more thoughts.


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