AT&T Complains To FCC About ‘Illegal’ T-Mobile And Sprint Wi-Fi Calling

AT&T is like the one kid at the pool who walks instead of running – and then tries to get everyone else in trouble with the lifeguard. But what else can you do when your competitors are offering Wi-Fi calling and you’re toeing the FCC’s line?

Wi-Fi calling (using your home wireless network or a Wi-Fi hotspot to place phone calls on your mobile phone) has been around for quite some time, but it’s mostly been a perk of wireless carriers T-Mobile and Sprint. AT&T looked into offering the service too, with an eye towards reeling in more iPhone users who could take advantage of their home networks. But, according to AT&T, it hasn’t been able to get approval from the FCC to take the service live. It’s not that the others received the approval, from AT&T’s perspective: it’s that Sprint and T-Mobile are simply ignoring the FCC’s rules.

1Wifi calling Tmobile

Naturally, AT&T raised the issue with the FCC, reportedly via a letter from AT&T vice president James Cicconi to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. The letter points out that AT&T has been striving to meet a key requirement of Wi-Fi calling, which is teletypewriter (TTY) support. AT&T has been working on a similar service, known as real-time text (RTT), and it asked the FCC for a waiver that would let it substitute RTT for TTY.

If the FCC agrees to the waiver, it would seem to give AT&T the clearance it needs to provide Wi-Fi calling to its customers. AT&T has been waiting since June, however, and is getting understandably antsy. Thus, the letter, which points out that Sprint and T-Mobile don’t have waivers, but have gone on to offer the service anyway.

“This past Friday, September 25, was the date on which AT&T intended to introduce Wi-Fi calling services in competition with other competitors in the market, namely T-Mobile and Sprint,” wrote Cicconi in the letter to FCC chairman Wheeler. “As discussed above, those carriers have been offering Wi-Fi calling services for a significant period of time, well over a year on Android devices and for months on iOS devices. Neither of those carriers has approached the FCC to request a waiver of the TTY rules.”

As you might expect, T-Mobile CEO John Legere responded to a tweet on the subject by The Verge’s Chris Ziegler with his usual flair: “@zpower @WaltBTIG @FCC we didn’t launch wifi we Unleashed it!”

Now we'll see if the FCC blows its whistle or gets back to applying sun lotion.
Show comments blog comments powered by Disqus