“When iOS’ FaceTime video chat feature debuted on iPhones, AT&T subscribers were limited to using it only on WiFi,” Richard Adhikari reports for MacNewsWorld. “Now, however, AT&T will let subscribers use it on the cellular network as well — if those subscribers sign up for a new, and possibly more expensive, Mobile Share data plan. Consumer watchdogs say that policy is a violation of FCC Net neutrality rules.”

“The carrier is drawing flak from advocacy groups for requiring users to sign up for one of the company’s new Mobile Share data plans if they want to use iOS’s FaceTime video chat app over AT&T’s wireless network rather than WiFi.,” Adhikari reports. “Public Knowledge and Free Press contend that this requirement is a breach of the Federal Communications Commission’s rules on Net neutrality.”

Adhikari reports, “However, AT&T iPhone users have always used FaceTime over WiFi, and AT&T isn’t forcing them to stop using WiFi and move over to its wireless network. Rather, it’s stating that those who want to use FaceTime over its network have to switch to one of the new service plans in order to use the feature on the cellular network as well. Consumers can retain their existing plans if they only wish to use FaceTime over WiFi.”

Read more in the full article here.

Bob Quinn, AT&T’s Senior Vice President-Federal Regulatory and Chief Privacy Office has responded to critics via open letter. Read more: AT&T Mobility blasts ‘knee-jerk reaction’ to ‘FaceTime Over Cellular’ plans

MacDailyNews Take: Beyond the question of the FCC’s authority to impose and/or adjudicate such rules, what do you think, is it illegal for AT&T Mobility to do what it intend on doing in regard to FaceTime Over Cellular?

As for so-called “Net Nutrality,” as we’ve written before: Fostering realistic, competitive ISP choice for consumers is the best way to maintain “Net Neutrality.” True supporters of the concept of “Net Neutrality,” rather than some bastardized version that’s only branded “Net Neutrality,” should focus their energies in that direction.

The supporters of net neutrality regulation believe that more rules are necessary. In their view, without greater regulation, service providers might parcel out bandwidth or services, creating a bifurcated world in which the wealthy enjoy first-class Internet access, while everyone else is left with slow connections and degraded content.

That scenario, however, is a false paradigm. Such an all-or-nothing world doesn’t exist today, nor will it exist in the future. Without additional regulation, service providers are likely to continue doing what they are doing. They will continue to offer a variety of broadband service plans at a variety of price points to suit every type of consumer.

Depending on their requirements and preferences, some consumers will choose to pay more for premium service. Others will decide that they don’t need such high service levels, so they will pay less. Inevitably, the market will adjust, just as it has in the past, to this varied population and its preference for a highly diverse mix of services, quality, bandwidth and price. This is the hallmark of a competitive market.

Robert Pepper, Cisco Systems’ senior managing director, global advanced technology policy; former FCC chief of policy development, March 14, 2007

Full article “Network Neutrality: Avoiding a Net Loss” – highly recommended – here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Edward W.” for the heads up.]

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