AT&T finally gets FCC approval for WiFi calling, but still mad T-Mobile and Sprint broke the rules


AT&T today announced that the FCC has approved a waiver that would allow them to deploy WiFi calling.

AT&T has expressed their intent to bring WiFi calling to their users for quite some time, but their hand has been forced by FCC rules that state they can’t offer WiFi calling without providing TTY services for hard-of-hearing folks. AT&T says they’ve been working instead on a hard-of-hearing solution they believe to be a better fit for WiFi calling in RTT, though the FCC doesn’t yet recognize RTT as a sufficient standard for text transcription.

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Despite this, AT&T’s competitors — Sprint and T-Mobile, namely — have deployed WiFi calling without TTY, and they’ve done so without a proper waiver from the FCC. AT&T’s been lobbying for that to change by requesting that either they be granted a waiver to launch WiFi calling without TTY or enforce the rules which Sprint and T-Mobile were seemingly free to break.

One might ask why AT&T simply didn’t follow in their competitors’ footsteps and bypass the FCC rules. The answer might be simple: AT&T just doesn’t want to do anything to get back on their bad side.

They’ve already been hit with fines out of the wazoo for several issues, the biggest of which in recent time being the $100 million fine they received for their “unlimited” data-throttling practices. AT&T not only paid the fine and made their practices more transparent, but they went as far as quadrupling the amount of data users could guzzle before they’re slowed down.

So what now? Well, AT&T hasn’t given a timeline as to when we can expect initial deployment, though we’re sure they’ve been laying the groundwork behind the scenes to make sure it doesn’t take too long. As for Sprint and T-Mobile, the FCC seems content on ignoring their past transgressions as they’ve simply invited them to apply for a similar waiver form to continue offering their WiFi calling service uninterrupted. AT&T’s not particularly happy about that bit, but at least they got what they were after.

[via AT&T, FCC]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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