MobiTV Won’t Connect Via Wi-Fi — Evil Carrier Data Racketeering Scheme?


MobiTV isn’t the first app to refuse to open when connected to a Wi-Fi network (I’m looking at you, Skype with Verizon), but given the video streaming nature of the app it does seem like one that would be a no-brainer for Wi-Fi use. Wait, so video streaming uses a lot of data bandwidth? And data bandwidth usage could mean big money for wireless carriers? OK, now things are becoming clear. At least they are kind enough to include a warning after asking you to shut off your phone’s Wi-Fi connection. “THIS PRODUCT WILL USE A LARGE AMOUNT OF DATA AND YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL DATA CHARGES.” Oh, it will?


MobiTV comes installed on the Samsung Captivate as part of AT&T’s pre-bundled software (read here if you’d like to give AT&T the root and boot from the Captivate), so it would stand that the carrier/software developer/manufacturer/whoever might have seen some promise in trying to up-sell data along with an app that only works on-network. And really, it is just that: a shameless attempt to squeeze more money out of the consumer. Maybe it is a bit extreme to call it racketeering, but it sure feels a bit that way. Of course, you aren’t obligated to use MobiTV on your Captivate — and we’d suggest avoiding it for the aforementioned reasons — but it would be nice to see this sort of thing eradicated. I suppose that is the price we pay for subsidized hardware.

[via MobileCrunch]

Kevin Krause
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  1. Don’t break technology down like that just to make money! Advance! I hope this doesn’t become a trend with other app developers. :/

  2. sprint tv does the same thing

  3. V cast video on Verizon won’t play on wifi either. Really sucks since I paid $10 a month and couldn’t even use it at my home because of that. Verizon got less money from me instead of more. Anything that uses data should use cell data OR wifi.

  4. This is a major power play by the carrier. I am deeply disappointed on how carriers are charging so much for data to begin with. Have you seen the profits they’re making? Millions every quarter! AT&T is just proving that they are not interested in their customers remaining customers. I have a feeling a lot of people are going to switch carriers after a few months of receiving excessive data charges. Just saying.

  5. @son: Yeah but Sprint’s data is unlimited.

  6. Works like a charm on thr Vibrant. GO T-Mobile!

  7. Works like a charm on the Vibrant using Wi-Fi. GO T-Mobile!

  8. Perhaps they host the content on servers that are only available on their internal (3G) network. I’m not defending the practice, but this is a possibility.

  9. @Jerbear

    No, sprints like every other carrier with their unlimited plans. There’s a 5gb cap limit. Is “Jerbear” Jerry Adame from PL!?!?

  10. MobiTV is complete and utter garbage anyway, much like almost all of the bundled AT&T apps that. Some of them are embarrassingly bad, such as Mobile Video (I think that is what it was called, but I have whacked the AT&T apps already so I can’t check). It appeared to simply be a website fresh out of the WayBack machine — boy was it ugly. I took one look and closed it. But I digress…

    What I find egregious about this, if it is true, is that AT&T has cited on numerous occasions why certain apps were _not_ allowed to stream over 3G (Sling Mobile and then only on the iPhone, FaceTime) because their network couldn’t handle the greatly increased load. Now this app which, as you correctly pointed out, makes direct revenue for AT&T _has_ to use 3G. I love the double-standards.

  11. I sure hope this doesn’t become a trend because it would kinda defeat the entire purpose of including wifi on the device to begin with. Carriers have really been pushing my buttons as of late. They’re just making my switch back to feature phone all the easier.

  12. @adam I don’t think Sprint has a 5gb data cap. People always state that, but I think It’s just a rumor. Sprint mods deny it on their forums. So far I’ve never been cut off at 5g.

  13. I’m amazed at the number of people who sign contracts that will cost them thousands of dollars without any understanding of what they’re signing.

    Adam, you’re just plain wrong. Read your TOS. There is NO, Nada, None, Zero, Zed cap on any Everything plan with Data. The cap applies only to broadband modems and tethering plans.

    Yes, there are caps on older plans, like F&F. But not on Everything Data plans. So you can use Sprint TV as much as you want as long as you have a current plan.

  14. @adam i think thats just the air cards that cap at 5GB

  15. To build a bit on what Jason said, maybe this is a rather ham-fisted attempt at validation/security? I don’t know if MobiTV has some kind of agreement with AT&T (or the other way around), maybe some extra features in the AT&T app that aren’t otherwise available. But if they needed to ensure that the user was a valid AT&T customer, that’d be one way to do it.

  16. This is why we, as consumers, should band together and migrate en masse to carriers such as T-Mobile which do not cap their data plans.

  17. Sucks for captivate owners cuz it works perfect on my vibrant!

  18. @nick and @LaMarcus Yes there is a 5gb cap imposed on air card data packages as well as smart phone data packages. They don’t cut off your service after 5gbs, they just charge a rate per MB, usually around $1.99 per MB for PDA data plan overages, and 25cents per MB for aircard overages. Both data caps are in place primarily to deter P2P downloading in large quantities over the air. I worked for Verizon Wireless for 2 years as well as Sprint, ATT, T-mobile in Best Buy.

    @Lamarcus Think about it. Why would I pay $49 for an aircard capped at 5gb if it was possible to tether with my existing PDA data package at no cap? Not to mention not having to sign another 2yr contract. It’s All capped accross all carriers =(

  19. Well, ill still consider it a rumor until Sprint either starts charging me for going over 5gb on my phone, or they cut me off.

  20. @adam: I’m not the same person.

    As far as Sprint, their normal plans have sort of a fine print “soft” cap on their unlimited 3g data plans like most carriers. I went over by a lot on a few occasions and was never charged or cut off but I’m sure they could if they wanted.

    What I was referring to is the plan I have on my Evo. When they added $10 to my family plan for adding an Evo it uncapped my 3g and Wimax data. Basically my girlfriend pays $65 and I pay $75 now. Her phone is a Palm Pre without the $10 “premium” data fee so she assumedly has the 5GB soft cap still.

    The $10 premium data fee does a couple of things. Basically it gives you access to any of their city-wide Wimax hotspots and uncaps both 3g and Wimax data since they expect you to use a lot more data with an Evo than you would with another phone. It’s kinda marketing BS but I don’t mind losing the cap while everyone else is adding them.

  21. As said, Sprint TV does this, and I just assumed its because they couldn’t verify you’re a Sprint Customer on wi-fi, I have no clue if its true, but if it is, I imagine its the same thing with MobiTV

  22. everyone shell out the dollars and buy a sling media hd box, hook it up to your current tv, then shell out $30 for the app for android, and watch your tv from your home at anytime you want…live…oh yea dvr works too.

  23. p.s. use it anywhere, data or wifi

  24. i actually have the vibrant and mobi works fine with wifi

  25. I still can’t believe people are spewing nonsense about 5gb caps on Sprint and Verizon. This is the digital age people. Google it! The 5gb only applies to tethering/broadband cards.

    I’m on Verizon with an unlimited plan. When I check my usage on My Verizon which uses lil’ green bars to show you how much usage, minutes, texts, etc. it is always empty because my plan is unlimited. To the contrary, my girlfriend’s daughter is also on my account with a multimedia phone. She routinely reaches her data usage limits and then I have to go into Usage Controls and basically brick her phone before she costs me an arm and a leg.

  26. Those of you who have Tmobile Vibrant phones. Can you use the phones TV out feature to steam mobitv to your TV or is it DRM protected?

  27. Rob, I tried to get mobitv to work on the TV output of a Samsung Vibrant and it did not work. Everything else works fine (youtube etc) but not mobitv. If I unplug the jack and plug it back in again, I get sound from the TV, but nothing else. Must be protected. And I was hoping to watch NFL games with it :(

  28. This is a rights issue on the content on all the mobile video services— content owners have licensed for mobile use over 3G and watching video on wi-fi moves the grant of rights over into internet use, changing the financials of the deals significantly.

  29. Someone above said it great. By a sling box and watch whatever channels you get at home on your phone anytime through open air internet. Anywhere you get internet you can DVR watch live TV anything you could see at your home. It is the only way.

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