AT&T Says It Will Cut Off P2P Wireless Users; But What About Pandora Users?
from the be-careful-on-that-iPhone dept
While those who like to claim that the US broadband market is more competitive than it really is like to point to the rise of 3G wireless networks as proof, they almost always ignore the fact that those 3G networks come with insanely restrictive terms of service, that allow the providers to cut users off for almost any activity outside of email or web browsing. For example, using such a service for video and music has been prohibited in some terms of service. Sprint was the most open with their 3G wireless until recently.
Now AT&T is admitting that if it discovers users of its wireless broadband 3G service are making use of P2P apps, it will cut them off completely, and claims that it makes this clear in the terms of service. It hasn’t happened yet, but this bit of data will supposedly be used by a dissenting FCC commissioner this week to show that Comcast’s traffic shaping is pretty tame compared to other “rules” out there on network usage (ignoring the very different nature of the networks in question, of course).
This raises a number of questions: If AT&T’s biggest concern about P2P file sharing apps is clogging its 3G wireless network, why does it allow streaming apps to run on the iPhone? For example, one of the most popular apps on the iPhone is Pandora, whose customized streaming radio offering is super popular (and appears to work quite well). So is AT&T going to cut off users of one of the most popular apps on the iPhone? And how will AT&T respond when someone (inevitably, if they haven’t already done so) develops an iPhone app for P2P file sharing as well? This really just seems like AT&T slipping an excuse into the terms of service to cut off anyone they don’t like — but in the long run it may backfire as people get pissed off at AT&T for limiting what new devices like the iPhone can do.