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AT&T won't block Slingbox video application for iPhone

Update: with comment from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski
AT&T said Thursday it will allow video provider Sling Media to operate over its wireless 3G network for phones like Apple's iPhone.

The move comes after criticism that the company was blocking the application, Slingbox, even though Sling had tweaked its application so that it would automatically calibrate to use less bandwidth during times of congestion on wireless networks.

Advocates of new net neutrality rules at the Federal Communications Commission said blocking Slingbox was a violation of open-Internet access rules. They said it was among a growing number of examples of carriers prioritizing or blocking Web content unfairly. Apple's iPhone, which is partnered exclusively to run on AT&T, only recently allowed VoIp services over the phone.

“AT&T’s announcement is a step in the right direction. Consumers benefit from mobile video choices," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in a statement.

Internet service providers said wireless networks have limited bandwidth and networks could be easily clogged by certain applications, particulary video providers. Sling, owned by Echostar, said in a filing last month to the FCC, however, that AT&T had continued to block its application even after it was reengineered so it wouldn't take up too much wireless capacity.

"Just as we've worked with Sling Media in this instance, we look forward to collaborating with other developers so that mobile customers can access a wider, more bandwidth-sensitive, and powerful range of applications in the future," said Ralph de la Vega, president of AT&T Mobility, in a statement. The company said it has been testing the new Slingbox application since last December.

By by Cecilia Kang  |  February 4, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  AT&T , Apple , FCC  | Tags: Slingbox; iPhone; Apple; bandwith; AT&T; net neutrality; Federal Communications Commission; Sling  
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