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Public interest groups take on AT&T over Facetime block

Will file suit
Tue Sep 18 2012, 16:03
Apple iPhone 5 front featuring 4G and 4in screen

AMERICAN TELECOMS FIRM AT&T is facing a lawsuit that alleges it is violating net neutrality by blocking Apple's Facetime app.

The firm has been warned by the public interest groups Free Press, Public Knowledge and the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute that they are about to file a formal complaint against it in the coming weeks.

The complaint comes on the heels of the release of Apple's IOS 6, the operating system that lets Facetime users chat to each other over mobile networks. The complaint, which will be filed with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), follows AT&T's admission that it will block users from Facetime unless they sign up for a special tariff, called a "Mobile Share" plan.

"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," said Free Press policy director Matt Wood.

"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."

We have asked AT&T to comment, but so far it has not.

In the UK Vodafone has already admitted that it will expect users to sign up for special contracts if they want to use Facetime over a mobile connection. µ


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