AT&T's Outrageous Plan to Charge Extra for FaceTime
The Insanity of Europe Reaches the US
I never thought it would happen. I mean I knew that the European Union had a pretty bad reputation when it came to violating the principles of net neutrality. But I never imagined that the blatant unfair practices would find their way over here. I feared it of course, and I hoped it would never come. But I never truly believed it. With AT&T's intentions of charging extra for FaceTime applications, my worst fears have come true.
It's hard for me to imagine what justification exactly AT&T can give over such a horrible idea. It's obviously unfair and charges the customer twice for the product that he or she has paid for. If you don't know what I'm talking about, FaceTime is an iOS application that runs on Apple products like the iPhone and the iPad. It allows users to video chat with each other. Nothing really fancy – just something that's always been available to many users. So far, FaceTime was available only over Wi-Fi. Apparently either Apple or the carriers were afraid that if people began to use it using their wireless data connections, they would blow through their data caps in no time. Their fear was probably justified.
Double Dipping from Customer's pockets
But what many people fail to realize is that customers have ALREADY paid for their data packets. If I get a data allotment of say two GB for a month, then it should be my prerogative as to what I should do with that data. This isn't any different from how an electricity or a power company works. If I pay for a certain amount of water or power, the company supplying it can't charge me extra for using it in any particular way. The availability of FaceTime on iOS certainly poses the danger that customers will use up their bandwidth caps quickly.
But instead of wanting the customer or allowing them to set a limit as to how much FaceTime they want to use, it's outright robbery for AT&T to charge anything more than the flat data rates they are already offering. To me, it's scary that AT&T can even THINK about such a move. It shows that they have confidence that the US customer is stupid and doesn't understand that they will be paying twice for the same thing.
A lot of people have said that net neutrality is a solution in search of a problem. Clearly, they never anticipated the kind of blatant violations that we see happening around us every day today. If AT&T goes through with this move, it would be a shocking blow for net neutrality in the United States.