AT&T Retracts TOS Change — It Was All about Sling

13 Comments

After we wrote on Thursday that AT&T (s T) had altered its terms of service to limit mobile video, the company changed its mind. AT&T let us know last night that it had reverted the TOS change.

The language added on March 30 to AT&T’s wireless data service Terms and Conditions was done in error. It was brought to our attention and we have since removed it. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

But upon reading the new TOS this morning, we see that only one clause was removed from the two sections which seemed designed to inhibit mobile video — one a list of disallowed services, and the other a list of overage charges for mobile data.

Yesterday, the TOS forbid these things:

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

Today, it forbids these:

downloading movies using P2P file sharing services, web broadcasting, and/or for the operation of servers, telemetry devices and/or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition devices is prohibited.

The only revision is to remove the description of “customer initiated redirection of television…” — what companies like Sling Media and Orb Networks do.

What’s all the more pointed about this change is that AT&T offers a competing live Mobile TV service — for a charge of $15 or $30 per month. So it seems that while they were first trying to block the competition, the folks at AT&T (perhaps the people who pay their legal fees) had a change of heart. As for the rest of the stuff — P2P, web broadcasting — well, that’s still not allowed.

13 Comments

Dave Zatz

Brett, I pay both AT&T (phone) and Sprint (aircard) for data services. I’m perfectly fine with them capping usage (at 5GB). But telling me how I can or cannot use my quota is BS, and in this case perhaps anticompetitive. They made the right decision to roll it back. Although they’re not out of the woods yet – I’m hoping the FCC does indeed take a look at why Skype is limited to WiFi only on the iPhone.

Brett Glass

It’s perfectly reasonable for the provider to offer video at an extra charge but not otherwise. Video consumes large amounts of bandwidth, and can cause the provider to lose money on the customer each month. But if there’s a way to recover the extra cost via a surcharge, then it’s possible for the customer to get good value while the provider can at least break even. That’s a win/win.

Dave Zatz

I think they offer about three video/tv services. Streaming shows, streaming clips, and mediaflo – all for a fee, of course. And who knows if the streaming ones count against the cap like a Sling or Hava does.

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