AT&T Says You Can Use Any Video Streaming App You Want... Just As Soon As It Can Get The Meter Running
from the cheap-phone-subsidized-with-a-two-year-shakedown dept
AT&T isn't going to let something like "net neutrality" slow it down from shaking every spare cent out of its customer base. (Source: I'm a customer. Also: see these.) Beginning last year with its blocking of Apple's Facetime app (exempting customers who were paying for higher service tiers) and continuing on through its recent lockout of Google Hangouts, AT&T has skirted neutrality by using one term: pre-loaded.
In its mind, as long as an app is "pre-loaded" by phone manufacturers (and competing options are available), AT&T can block app functionality if it feels it's somehow leaving money on the table. Of course, this irritates many of its customers and brings with it an uncomfortable amount of heat as the word travels around the web.
AT&T has now issued another statement to critics of its Hangout-blocking, one which sends the clear message that the company will gladly welcome streaming video apps with open arms (even pre-loaded apps), just as soon as it's able to simultaneously welcome a fat stream of income.
AT&T has issued a second, follow up statement that doesn't make a whole lot more sense than the first one did, and again tries to place the blame at the feet of OS and device makers. AT&T does, however, promise that they'll stop blocking video chat apps from running over their network by the end of this year:AT&T's buying time while trying to appear to be working towards a "solution" for all of its customers. The longer it can hold out, the more likely the chance that someone upgrades or switches devices, thus pulling them off their grandfathered unlimited data plans and onto tiered/metered plans that earn AT&T a bit more money.
"For video chat apps that come pre-loaded on devices, we currently give all OS and device makers the ability for those apps to work over cellular for our customers who are on Mobile Share or Tiered plans. Apple, Samsung and BlackBerry have chosen to enable this for their pre-loaded video chat apps. And by mid-June, we’ll have enabled those apps over cellular for our unlimited plan customers who have LTE devices from those three manufacturers.
Throughout the second half of this year, we plan to enable pre-loaded video chat apps over cellular for all our customers, regardless of data plan or device; that work is expected to be complete by year end.
Today, all of our customers can use any mobile video chat app that they download from the Internet, such as Skype."
It tries to present this as a network issue, but Karl Bode translates AT&T's corporatespeak into the miserable truth:
In other words this isn't really technical (AT&T's LTE network is currently ranked the fastest available in the States), it's a way to bully unlimited users on to costlier plans. It's also a network neutrality violation, regardless of AT&T's choice of language.Now, there's nothing wrong with a business attempting to earn more money. But the key word here is "earn." AT&T's just trying to grab more income while offering nothing in return but a bunch of laughable statements -- both in regards to the current issues, as well as the non-stop "congestion" posturing it uses to justify limited, expensive data plans. It's obviously most interested in tying users to high-margin "services." The least it could do is drop the obviously ridiculous statements and tell its customers they can have what they want just as soon as it gets what it wants.