When we first heard that we would be able to use FaceTime over the 3G network with the upcoming iOS 6, we were overjoyed that Apple finally heard our pleas. Earlier this week, when we heard that AT&T might decide to charge extra for that service, our over-inflated happiness balloon popped.
Why would AT&T do this to us? Lucky Sprint subscribers won’t have to feel the tightened purse strings of FaceTime charges. A spokesperson for the mobile Internet service provider (ISP) recently told The Wall Street Journal that Sprint opposes that ideology.
The spokesperson told the WSJ that Sprint “remains committed to our unlimited data, and that means not charging for data consumption based on the application.” AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson was questioned about the company’s intentions with FaceTime earlier this week and said that it was “too early” to address FaceTime fees. Verizon made a similar comment, stating that “the timing of any pricing conversations related to future versions of iOS is premature.”
According to MacNN, AT&T and Verizon may be violating net neutrality rules that went into effect last November if they do end up charging extra for FaceTime. The new rule prevents ISPs from blocking unwanted services and requires them to disclose how they handle network congestion. Mobile carriers like AT&T are not allowed to interfere with non-carrier apps like Skype.
“The protections we have today for wireless Internet access are woefully inadequate, but this kind of double-charging is one of the few things they do prohibit,” said Matt Wood, the policy director for Free Press, an advocacy group that opposes the rate hike. “If carriers like AT&T can throw up tollbooths for applications on top of their already outrageous charges for data, then innovation and competition in the wireless market will be stopped dead in its tracks.”
If AT&T or Verizon decide to charge extra for FaceTime and Sprint decides not to, there will probably be a lot of people jumping ship. Subscribers may not ever even use FaceTime over the 3G network, but on principal, users should make a stand against charging for it at all.