AT&T planning changes to forbid video streaming, filesharing, and data tethering

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Date: Friday, April 3rd, 2009, 15:04
Category: Mobile, News, Services

AT&T appears to be changing its Terms of Service to limit data usage on its network. The new restrictions seems specifically aimed at several services that have already been available to current AT&T customers, especially iPhone users (but not stated as such).

The terms describe that accessing email and the internet is permissible, but prohibits:

attlogo.jpg

[...] 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. Furthermore, plans(unless specifically designated for tethering usage) cannot be used for any applications that tether the device (through use of, including without limitation, connection kits, other phone/PDA-to computer accessories, Bluetooth® or any other wireless technology) to Personal Computers (including without limitation, laptops), or other equipment for any purpose.

The change has seemingly been put in place on the heels of the recent release of the Skype iPhone app. While Apple itself stated it would not block VOIP applications on the iPhone, it has long been speculated what AT&T would do once those apps made it to the iPhone. Several apps like Fring and TruPhone already had hooks into Skype, but didn’t appear to attract any response from AT&T.

The current description of the restrictions is pretty wide, touching on several iPhone applications that facilitate filesharing and video streaming, which would cover software like SlingMedia’s upcoming SlingPlayer iPhone app. Where is all this headed? As devices become more internet enabled, phone companies seem determined to strangle their functionality rather than improve their level of services so that people will want to buy them.

Is AT&T being greedy, trying to slow people down until they can develop their own service plans, or are they like the record companies who just can’t see the writing on the wall? Discuss in the forums!

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