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Could AT&T's blockage of FaceTime be an FCC violation?


Yesterday, TUAW noted that AT&T is planning on blocking Apple's iOS 6 FaceTime video calling app over cellular service except for those individuals who have signed up for one of the company's new "Mobile Share" plans. A few websites are now wondering aloud if AT&T's plans to proceed in that direction could be in violation of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) rules on network neutrality.

According to a USA Today Technology Live post, those rules say that "Internet providers may not block content, applications or sites that compete with their services." In that post, John Bergmayer of Public Knowledge stated that "Although carriers are permitted to engage in 'reasonable network management,' there is no technical reason why one data plan should be able to access FaceTime, and another not."

Not surprisingly, one group is already taking action by publishing an online petition that it hopes will force the FCC to look into AT&T's FaceTime plans. The petition created by Free Press states, among other things, that "customers will be forced to pay extra for something they won't use -- minutes and texts -- just to access FaceTime over the mobile Internet."

AT&T is sticking to its guns, telling Ars Technica blogger Jacqui Cheng that "FaceTime is available to all of our customers today over Wi-Fi. And we're now expanding its availability even further as an added benefit of our new Mobile Share data plans."

What's your personal opinion of AT&T requiring a Mobile Share data plan in order to access FaceTime? Leave your comments below.

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