Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Translation of Selected Portions of AT&T’s Blog Post Regarding FaceTime Over Their Cellular Network

A la John Gruber, here is my translation of Bob Quinn’s brand of PR-speak to plain English:

Last week, we confirmed plans to make FaceTime available over our mobile broadband network for our AT&T Mobile Share data plan customers.

Please note the very precise language I am about to use throughout this post. You will notice a trend.

FaceTime is a video chat application that has been pre-loaded onto every AT&T iPhone since the introduction of iPhone 4.

FaceTime is a video chat application that has been preloaded onto every iPhone since the iPhone 4, AT&T or otherwise.

AT&T does not have a similar preloaded video chat app that competes with FaceTime or any other preloaded video chat application. Nonetheless, in another knee jerk reaction, some groups have rushed to judgment and claimed that AT&T’s plans will violate the FCC’s net neutrality rules. Those arguments are wrong.

You won’t believe how tightly we are threading our FaceTime policies through some loopholes we found. You are going to be amazed, where by amazed, we mean “totally pissed off”.

Providers of mobile broadband Internet access service are subject to two net neutrality requirements: (1) a transparency requirement pursuant to which they must disclose accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of their broadband Internet access services; and (2) a no-blocking requirement under which they are prohibited, subject to reasonable network management, from blocking applications that compete with the provider’s voice or video telephony services.

Ready to be be amazed-slash-totally pissed off?

The FCC’s net neutrality rules do not regulate the availability to customers of applications that are preloaded on phones. Indeed, the rules do not require that providers make available any preloaded apps. Rather, they address whether customers are able to download apps that compete with our voice or video telephony services. AT&T does not restrict customers from downloading any such lawful applications, and there are several video chat apps available in the various app stores serving particular operating systems.

We are reading these guidelines to the letter. The FCC prohibits blocking applications, not the use of applications. Come on, just admit you’re impressed at how we’ve managed to find these loopholes.

(I won’t name any of them for fear that I will be accused by these same groups of discriminating in favor of those apps. But just go to your app store on your device and type “video chat.”)

Oy you, look over here: Skype. I mean Skype. You know about Skype. Skyyyyyype.

Therefore, there is no net neutrality violation.

Boom, check that loophole shit out. Tell me that ain’t clever.

To be clear, customers will continue to be able to use FaceTime over Wi-Fi irrespective of the data plan they choose.

I need to be clear here because it looks like we’re so evil that we may have control over your WiFi network, too. This isn’t the case, but dammit, I wish it were.

We are broadening our customers’ ability to use the preloaded version of FaceTime but limiting it in this manner to our newly developed AT&T Mobile Share data plans out of an overriding concern for the impact this expansion may have on our network and the overall customer experience.

We have a shitty network. You know how every other country is going to allow their users access to FaceTime over 3G for no extra cost, like they do for mobile hotspot features? Yeah, we can’t do that unless you want AT&T service in Midtown Manhattan to be even worse than it already is.

While I’ve still got your attention, allow me to remind you that other video chat applications will continue to function on 3G without a Mobile Share plan, but FaceTime won’t, for reasons even we don’t understand.

We always strive to provide our customers with the services they desire and will incorporate our learnings from the roll-out of FaceTime on our mobile broadband network into our future service offerings.

Fuck you very much.