AT&T Customer Complains To FCC About Being Unable To Use FaceTime Over 3G/4G

Image courtesy of (Louis Abate)

AT&T customers who want to use the iPhone’s FaceTime video chat over a cellular connection need to switch over to one of the Death Star’s shared data plans. Unfortunately, since AT&T is the company that convinced the Supreme Court that forced arbitration clauses are an acceptable way to avoid class-action lawsuits, angry customers with unlimited data plans can’t get together to sue the company. But what they can do is file a complaint with the FCC.

That’s exactly what a man in San Francisco recently did when he found that his so-called unlimited data plan with AT&T was not good enough to use the feature over the carrier’s data connection (it can still be used over WiFi as it always has been).

“I am one of those AT&T ‘unlimited’-data customers who bought a plan when the iPhone first came out,” he tells Business Insider. “I have paid a premium for the unlimited data plan even though I don’t really use that much data, thinking that some day it would be useful to have.”

Of course, AT&T doesn’t care about its unlimited data customers, who pay no hefty overage fees if they cross their monthly threshold. Instead, their data speeds are throttled back until the beginning of the next billing cycle.

In fact, last spring, AT&T CEO Randall “Darth” Stephenson said that his “only regret” was his decision to launch the iPhone with unlimited data plans.

Some consumer advocates claim that by only giving FaceTime access to a certain tier of customer, AT&T is in violation of the FCC’s Open Internet rules, in particular the guideline that “Mobile broadband providers may not block lawful websites, or applications that compete with their voice or video telephony services.”

AT&T has maintained that the Open Internet rules only say you can’t block access to the app and by allowing anyone to download the app, its hands are clean, even if not everyone can use the app over 3G and 4G connections.

I’ve argued that the bigger concern isn’t whether AT&T has violated vaguely worded FCC rules, but that the company’s actions open the door to a world of tiered apps, wherein wireless carriers could effectively block access to data-heavy apps by only allowing them to be used by customers who pay for a certain class of service.

Filing a complaint with the FCC is rather easy. Simply go to the complaint portal at and fill in the appropriate information.

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