AT&T’s plan to limit on-network usage of Apple’s FaceTime video chat application to purchasers of AT&T’s Mobile Share data plan has provoked the ire of two public interest groups that have assailed AT&T’s policy as a violation of the FCC’s net neutrality rules. Although earlier generations of the mobile operating system for the Apple iPhone enable users to conduct FaceTime chats over Wi-Fi connections, the latest iPhone operating system (iOS 6) permits subscribers to use the video chat application over wireless carrier networks. While AT&T subscribers will still be able to connect to FaceTime over Wi- Fi networks, the carrier announced recently that customers will not be able to use FaceTime on the AT&T wireless network unless they subscribe to the company’s new Mobile Share data plan. (Unveiled earlier this summer, AT&T’s Mobile Share plan provides unlimited voice and text calls and buckets of data that can be shared across all of a subscriber’s wireless devices, starting at a monthly rate of $85.) Observing that the FCC’s net neutrality rules “state that mobile providers shall not ‘block applications that compete with the provider’s voice or video telephony services,’” John Bergmayer, a senior staff attorney at Public Knowledge declared: “by blocking FaceTime for many of its customers, AT&T is violating the FCC’s Open Internet rules.” Along a similar vein, Free Press policy director Matt Wood agreed that the FCC’s rules “prohibit such blatantly anti-competitive conduct by wireless companies,” as he asserted, “the net neutrality protections in place today are too weak, but at least prevent carriers from blocking these types of apps.” Bergmayer complained: “although carriers are permitted to engage in ‘reasonable network management,’ there is no technical reason why one data plan should be able to access FaceTime, and another not.” Defending his company’s actions, an AT&T spokesman explained to reporters that FaceTime “is available to all of our customers today over Wi-Fi, and we’re now expanding its availability even further as an added benefit of our new Mobile Share data plans.”