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FCC will review objections to AT&T's FaceTime blocking, 'exercise our responsibilities' if necessary

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FCC Julius Genachowski Vox Media
FCC Julius Genachowski Vox Media

The FCC has yet to comment on AT&T's decision to limit FaceTime over cellular connections, but in remarks made today at Vox Media's offices in Washington, DC, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski suggested that the agency would review complaints about the service. Genachowski said that he couldn't comment specifically on AT&T at this time, but that if a good-faith effort to resolve the issue "doesn't lead to a resolution and a complaint is filed, we will exercise our responsibilities and we will act." But the FCC shouldn't be waiting long to receive a formal complaint: internet and net neutrality advocates responded swiftly to AT&T's actions, claiming that the FCC's Open Internet rules clearly prohibit arbitrarily limiting a service like FaceTime over specific networks. And recently, several of these groups notified AT&T of their intent to file a formal complaint with the FCC over FaceTime blocking — they say AT&T's actions harm its customers, especially for those with disabilities and families overseas.

AT&T has argued that critics "rushed to judgement" about FaceTime limitations, and that it should be allowed to distinguish between pre-loaded and downloaded apps. In contrast, AT&T's chief rival, Verizon, has no plans to limit FaceTime over its cellular network. While the FCC hasn't specifically called out AT&T's actions, it's clear that the agency is ready to use its authority to resolve net neutrality issues that come before it.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that a formal complaint had been filed with the FCC over AT&T's FaceTime blocking. A formal complaint has not yet been filed, but opponents have notified AT&T of their intent to file a formal complaint. We apologize for the error.