AT&T Wireless has made a rare change to their terms of service, one that doesn’t bode well for consumers.
Like Verizon Wireless, the company now prevents users from streaming video from non-AT&T sources on their cell phones. The terms prevent streaming video, redirection of TV (Orb/Slingbox), and downloading video from the network.
It appears that sites like YouTube are exempted, via Apple’s iPhone deal. However, that may be limited to iPhone users. It is not clear the full scope of these changes, as they are broad and open to interpretation.
However, it does pave the way for AT&T to demand App Store vendors prevent the sale of video streaming applications on their devices. Apple for example could now be forced to require Orb, Truveo, Slingbox, and others require Wi-Fi only, much as VoIP applications do today.
This change comes at the same time that advocacy groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation ask the FCC to apply their recent net neutrality rulings against Comcast, to wireless providers. It is the opinion of PhoneNews.com that these rulings already apply, making these restrictions (as well as others barring phone-as-modem/tethering) moot and unenforceable.
AT&T has refused to respond to such inquires from PhoneNews.com, making it impossible to bring to the FCC what AT&T’s opinion on the matter actually is. AT&T is stonewalling on giving such an opinion, to make it more difficult for the FCC to rule either way, without a full inquiry.
On a positive note, this does create an Early Termination Fee loophole, wherein customers may terminate their service within the next 30 days. Per CTIA policy (which all carriers have agreed to), any material change to services requires AT&T to allow people to cancel service without any termination fees.
Read more to see the exact changes (and article update).
In the revised AT&T terms and conditions, AT&T added the following to their prohibited usage clause:
“Downloading movies using P2P file-sharing services, customer-initiated redirection of television or other video or audio signals via any technology from a fixed location to a mobile device, Web broadcasting, and/or for the operation of servers, telemetry devices and/or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition devices is prohibited.”
Update: AT&T has retracted this change, in a memo to the media. The carrier claims this was a typographical error, also claiming that the terminology was copied over from an older agreement. However, PhoneNews.com cannot find this terminology in any older version of the AT&T Wireless or Cingular terms.
Moreover, continuing the internal company embargo noted in the original report, AT&T refused to provide this information to PhoneNews.com directly… continuing their long-standing internal position to not discuss any matters of net neutrality with PhoneNews.com specifically.