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AT&T urges FCC to approve Wi-Fi calling, calls out Sprint and T-Mobile

by Todd Haselton | October 2, 2015October 2, 2015 10:00 am PDT

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AT&T, in a recent letter to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, is again pushing the FCC to move long in approving its efforts to offer Wi-Fi calling to customers.

AT&T is ready to roll with the service; in fact, iOS 9 adds the feature on iPhones, but it remains inactive because AT&T is waiting on the FCC to give it the go-ahead to operate. So far, the stall has come from the FCC’s requirements for teletypewriter (TTY) services to operate properly on Wi-Fi networks. Right now they don’t, which is why AT&T is waiting on a waiver, but AT&T says Sprint and T-Mobile didn’t care about that limitation and moved forward anyway.

“T-Mobile and Sprint were already advertising and providing Wi-Fi calling services without having sought or obtained a waiver of the Commission’s TTY rules,” AT&T senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs James Cicconi said in the letter to Wheeler provided to TechnoBuffalo. “From a business perspective, therefore, we were faced with a Hobson’s choice: enter the market without a waiver, as our competitors had done, or approach the Commission with a technology solution that would provide an alternative to TTY technology for IP-based Wi-Fi calls and request a temporary waiver of the Commission’s TTY requirements until that technology could be implemented.”

AT&T said that it has been playing by the FCC’s rules, with intentions to activate Wi-Fi calling on Sept. 25 in tandem with the release of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, but that the FCC didn’t act fast enough to make that possible.

Cicconi is pushing Wheeler to move “without further delay” so that AT&T can “offer its customers Wi-Fi calling capabilities and asymmetry that today exists between AT&T and its mobile services competitors.”

In other words: it sounds like you can blame the FCC if you’ve been waiting for AT&T to offer Wi-Fi calling. Maybe Wheeler will get this rolling. I know I’m waiting for it.


Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...

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