The Washington Post

AT&T speaks out on Facetime, net neutrality #thecircuit

AT&T answers net neutrality accusations: In a company blog post, AT&T dismissed accusations that its decision to limit cellular use of Apple’s Facetime video-conferencing app violates net neutrality rules.

“The FCC’s net neutrality rules do not regulate the availability to customers of applications that are preloaded on phones,” AT&T Senior Vice President-Federal Regulatory and Chief Privacy Officer Bob Quinn wrote. “Rather, they address whether customers are able to download apps that compete with our voice or video telephone services.”

AT&T will make the option to use the app over cellular networks available only to those on its shared data plans, though all users may use the service over WiFi networks.

Groups had criticized the decision as anticompetitive and in violation of FCC rules that maintain carriers cannot block competing services on smartphones. In response to AT&T’s comments, they say the carrier is still violating the rules, even when dealing with a preloaded app.

Facebook raises questions about free model: Facebook’s falling share price has set off a conversation about the viability of giving things away for free. As The Washington Post reported, while Facebook is — by many metrics — a successful company, it may be having a hard time selling Wall Street on the idea that you can make money without charging any.

Whoever coined the phrase ‘information wants to be free’ was blowing smoke,” said John Morton, who has analyzed the newspaper business for more than 40 years, in an interview with The Post. “Information is valuable, and it has to be paid for.”

Objection over broadband report: Republican lawmakers and Broadband for America criticized the Federal Communciation Commission’s characterization of its eighth-annual broadband report, saying that the FCC overlooks the accomplishments that have been made in the field.

According to a report from the Hill, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee joined Republican FCC commissioners Robert McDowell and Ajit Pai in saying that the report unfairly finds that broadband is not being deployed to all Americans in a ”reasonable and timely fashion.”

Republican spokeswoman Debbee Keller told the Hill that the report shows availability has grown from 15 percent to 95 percent from 2003 to 2009.

“If anything is lagging, it is the FCC’s willingness to get out of the way and let the country’s entrepreneurs bring needed jobs and economic growth to the country,” she said.

In response, an FCC spokesman told the Hill that the agency is simply not satisfied yet, citing the statistic in the report that 19 million Americans are without broadband access — particularly in rural areas.

Consumer Watchdog takes issue with FTC,Google deal: Consumer Watchdog has filed a motion with the U.S. District Court asking for the right to oppose the $22.5 million settlement between Google and the Federal Trade Commission, saying that the agreement doesn’t require Google to admit wrongdoing.

The settlement, announced earlier this month, was made over charges that Google violated the terms of its previous Google Buzz settlement by placing cookies on the computers of Apple Safari users.

The group is pushing to be recognized as a friend of the court in order to to be able to file a brief expressing its opinion on the matter.

LightSquared names new CEO: On Tuesday, LightSquared named a new chairman and chief executive, following the embattled firm’s battles with regulators over the launch of its high-speed wireless network.

Doug Smith, previously the company’s co-chief operating officer and chief network officer will take over the position. He succeeds Sanjiv Ahuja, who stepped down after the FCC blocked the network’s deployment over concerns that the network would cause too much interference with GPS signals.

After that move from the FCC, LightSquared filed for bankruptcy.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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