Is AT&T playing gatekeeper to the Wireless Web? [CNET News]
It's another case of "do as I say, not as I do" over at Ma Bell. Net neutrality advocate Free Press questioned AT&T's decision last week to allow one streaming video application for the iPhone via its wireless network, while continuing to enforce a ban on another similar streaming video application. With the release of the new iPhone 3.0 operating system, Apple greenlighted a streaming video option for subscribers to the popular MLB At Bat application. The At Bat application's video allows baseball fans to watch an entire game via AT&T's mobile network or on a wi-fi broadband connection. It's pretty neat, as you can see from the video below of the first streamed game between the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox.
But, earlier this year, AT&T blocked the streaming video SlingPlayer application from using AT&T's mobile network to stream video to the iPhone. SlingPlayer allows users with a SlingBox connected to their cable television and broadband connection to place shift their television viewing to a laptop or smartphone. AT&T blocked SlingPlayer for the iPhone from streaming on its mobile network, but allows it to stream video via a wi-fi connection.
AT&T's decision to block SlingPlayer on the iPhone has already revealed one double standard because it still allows the application to access the mobile network on other smartphone models, like the BlackBerry. Now, as Free Press has pointed out, we have another double standard when it comes to which applications are granted access to AT&T's network. If you're MLB At Bat, AT&T gives you the green light for streamed video. But, if you're a SlingPlayer user, you're going to be sitting at a red light. According to the SlingMedia representative interviewed for this article, AT&T indicated that it would not allow applications that involved the retransmission of television programming onto its mobile network when it explained the reason why SlingPlayer was blocked. Hmmm. Isn't that exactly what MLB At Bat is doing?