AT&T WiFi Calling On iPhones Now Allowed With FCC Waiver - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Government // Mobile & Wireless
Commentary
10/7/2015
02:10 PM
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
Commentary
50%
50%

AT&T WiFi Calling On iPhones Now Allowed With FCC Waiver

The FCC grants AT&T a waiver of its rules for the hearing impaired, allowing the carrier to roll out its WiFi calling on the iPhone and other devices.

iPhone 6s Plus Hands-On: 10 Best Features
iPhone 6s Plus Hands-On: 10 Best Features
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted AT&T a limited waiver (until Dec. 31, 2017) stating that the carrier does not have to support teletype technology (TTY) for calls that are made over WiFi. The decades-old TTY technology is used by the hearing impaired, but is being supplanted by a new standard.

The move paves the way to allow AT&T to roll out WiFi calling -- a feature it showed off in the in the fifth public beta of Apple's iOS 9 back in August. But the capability was deactivated in iOS 9's introduction because of incompatibility with the FCC's requirements regarding TTY.

Though no date has been set by AT&T for the start of this service, the FCC's decision brings it up to parity with Sprint and T-Mobile, who already offer WiFi calling without having been granted an explicit waiver of the TTY rules.

On June 12, 2015, AT&T filed a petition requesting that the Commission initiate a rule-making proceeding to authorize the substitution of a newer form of text communication, real-time text (RTT), as an alternative accessibility solution to TTY technology for use in the IP-based environment.

(Image: Linda Jo Heilman/iStockphoto)

(Image: Linda Jo Heilman/iStockphoto)

AT&T told the FCC that such a waiver "would further the TTY-to-RTT transition, bring the benefits of IP-based services, including voice, to the wireless marketplace, and enhance accessibility, without any reduction in current TTY support."

The Commission noted in its decision that "consumer groups have pointed out that because of its limitations, TTY technology is now 'sparsely used on IP networks' by the deaf and hard of hearing community, and therefore, this community 'is not served by rules mandating support of only TTY (without an option for RTT) on IP-based networks.' They [the consumer groups] explain that as IP networks have proliferated, consumers have come to appreciate the advantages of superior accessibility solutions that are native to IP protocol, such as RTT."

The Commission has already acknowledged consumers' belief that TTY technology is "an antiquated technology with technical and functional limitations."

But the waiver "does not impact or cover requirements for the support of TTY technology for any wireline services or wireless services not offered on an IP network."

[AT&T and ZTE are transforming cars into WiFi hotspots.]

So, this is a wireless-only waiver.

AT&T is still pursuing its claims against Sprint and T-Mobile.

AT&T's senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs Jim Ciccone said in a statement that, "We're grateful the FCC has granted AT&T's waiver request so we can begin providing WiFi calling. At the same time we are left scratching our heads as to why the FCC still seems intent on excusing the behavior of T-Mobile and Sprint, who have been offering these services without a waiver for quite some time. Instead of initiating enforcement action against them, or at least opening an investigation, the agency has effectively invited them to now apply for similar waivers and implied that their prior flaunting of FCC rules will be ignored. This is exactly what we meant when our letter spoke of concerns about asymmetric regulation."

Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek. He has written a book on the Secure Electronic Transaction Internet ... View Full Bio
We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
DeloresJ270
50%
50%
DeloresJ270,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/6/2015 | 5:53:53 AM
computer problems
The blog was a good effort for AT&T support . However finally I have to take help from 25dollarsupport.com to resolve my problem . Thanks , it is fixed now. Prompt and well behaved.
larryloeb
50%
50%
larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
10/8/2015 | 4:53:05 PM
Re: waiver
I guess the point here is to look out for all the users of these devices, not just the majority.

sprint and T-Mobile are just looking after the big chunk of the market, not all of it.
Ariella
50%
50%
Ariella,
User Rank: Author
10/8/2015 | 4:35:22 PM
Re: waiver
<But in this case, I think they went down the right path.> I agree. 
larryloeb
50%
50%
larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
10/8/2015 | 4:33:49 PM
Re: waiver
I expect Ms. Ham to espouse T-Mobiles viewpoints, being a SVP and all.

But, I dont see her talking about RTT.

I dont see her addressing the hearing impaired community.

I'm not a AT&T partisan. But in this case, I think they went down the right path.

The others didn't. I dont see them even thinking about hearing impaired in anything they say.
Ariella
50%
50%
Ariella,
User Rank: Author
10/8/2015 | 9:42:58 AM
Re: waiver
@larryloeb I see that AT&T considered that T-Mobile had been given the advantage over them.  Kathleen Ham, SVP, Government Affairs for T-Mobile, responded to that T-Mobile addressed AT&T's claim of FCC favoritism here at the CCA show. saying:

"Jim Cicconi likes to say that the Commission is picking winners and losers or favorites with T-Mobile and smaller carriers. I think that's silly. What he calls favoritism, others would call competitive policy.... We're subject to the same regulations they are. Comission has been rigorous in its regulation around wireless."

larryloeb
50%
50%
larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
10/8/2015 | 9:34:13 AM
Re: waiver
The FCC linked the waiver to the deployment of the RTT technology.

I would expect that they would grant any future waivers for the same reason.

T-Mobile and Sprint haven't talked about TTY or RTT, probably because they don't havelandlines int he mix like AT&T has.
Ariella
50%
50%
Ariella,
User Rank: Author
10/8/2015 | 9:09:54 AM
waiver
Interesting, are other companies likely to be granted such waivers now?
Slideshows
What Digital Transformation Is (And Isn't)
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/4/2019
Commentary
Watch Out for New Barriers to Faster Software Development
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  12/3/2019
Commentary
If DevOps Is So Awesome, Why Is Your Initiative Failing?
Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary,  12/2/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Getting Started With Emerging Technologies
Looking to help your enterprise IT team ease the stress of putting new/emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning and IoT to work for their organizations? There are a few ways to get off on the right foot. In this report we share some expert advice on how to approach some of these seemingly daunting tech challenges.
Slideshows
Flash Poll