I've written recently about AT&T's double standard when it comes to allowing video streaming applications on the iPhone. AT&T is the sole provider for the iPhone in the U.S., and while it allows users to stream Major League Baseball games on the iPhone via the AT&T wireless network, it prohibits users from using the SlingCatcher application to stream video content from their cable provider to the iPhone via the wireless network.
Yesterday, after several blogs asked the company about the policy, AT&T decided to issue an explanation for the double standard. According to AT&T's statement, their wireless network just can't meet their customers' expectations when it comes to streaming video:
Even though there's no technical difference between the MLB streaming video and SlingPlayer's streaming video, AT&T claims that, since it's network can't handle streaming video, it has the right to choose between one video application and another. And this explanation apparently only covers the iPhone, since BlackBerry and Windows Mobile device users on AT&T's network can still stream SlingPlayer content on those devices.
Many of you may remember that I have written extensively about the need of a network manager to manage their network. Cable operators have been (and continue to be confronted) with similar issues. There are several methods that cable operators accomplish keeping our networks running smoothly but none of them include discriminating between two applications with similar protocols -- in this case, video streaming. That puts AT&T in the position of choosing winners and losers.
AT&T recently announced an iPhone application that integrates the iPhone with its own multichannel video product, U-Verse. I wonder if AT&T's decision to block SlingPlayer video, which allows cable customers to watch their cable channels remotely, has anything to do with AT&T's U-Verse service.