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Amid Net Neutrality Complaints, AT&T Expands Access to Video-Chat App Amid Net Neutrality Complaints, AT&T Expands Access to Video-Chat App

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Tech / Net Neutrality

Amid Net Neutrality Complaints, AT&T Expands Access to Video-Chat App

November 8, 2012

Consumer advocates are praising a decision by AT&T to end restrictions on a video-calling app--restrictions that critics say violate federal network competition rules.

AT&T announced on Thursday that it would expand access to FaceTime, an app that allows users to make calls without using a carrier's voice service. AT&T had restricted access to the app, saying the app could bog down its network.

"It is for this reason that we took a more cautious approach toward the app," AT&T's Jim Cicconi wrote in a blog post on Thursday. "To do otherwise might have risked an adverse impact on the services our customers expect--voice quality in particular--if usage of FaceTime exceeded expectations."

Over the coming months the app will be available for use on all of AT&T's tiered data plans, as well as plans for deaf and hard-of-hearing customers.

In September, Free Press, Public Knowledge, and the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute threatened to file a formal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission accusing AT&T of violating the agency's net-neutrality rules, which govern anti-competitive behavior by providers.

The groups praised AT&T, but said the complaint will move forward if the carrier doesn't follow through.

"AT&T's course correction is a move in the right direction, but until the company makes FaceTime available to all of its customers it is still in violation of the FCC's rules and the broader principles of Net Neutrality," Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood said in a statement.

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