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AT&T Saves Face on FaceTime

Harolyn Sawyer/101 Magazine
Derrick Behm, a student at Galludet University in Washington, D.C., uses the Facetime feature on his phone to communicate.


AT&T is now allowing some customers access to the video chat service FaceTime after advocate groups for the hearing impaired and open technology threatened to file a formal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The company had previously said that subscribers using FaceTime would have to upgrade to a more expensive data plan to get the service. FaceTime is now available to customers protected by grandfathered unlimited data plans. AT&T also announced on Nov. 8 that it would also support the use of FaceTime on Apple devices with iOS 6 and Long Term Evolution (LTE) capabilities. 

Customers had been worried that upgrading to a more expensive data plan would have doubled their monthly bill.

For some, FaceTime might be just another feature, but for others it is their only means of communication.

“Me, as a deaf person, don’t have that capability to use the phone,” says Gallaudet University student Derrick Behm. “So the options I have are already limited.”

Before FaceTime a deaf or hard-of-hearing person had to use telecommunications relay services to make or receive phone calls. Now they can push one button, and they are connected.

Advocates claimed that AT&T would have been violating FCC rules by asking users to pay more for FaceTime or risk losing the feature. They also considered it an attack on Network Neutrality and started an online petition. The Federal Communications Commission had been expected to rule on the issue.

Article updated on Dec. 1, 2012


AT&T’s Position Then and Now:



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