Earlier this month, AT&T modified its wireless terms of service (TOS) to ban Slingbox activities on mobile devices attached to its network. Less than a week later, the company retracted these changes due to public outcry over the matter and explained that the changes were made "in error."
Unexpectedly, the AT&T TOS has changed again within the past 24 hours. The new TOS language targets and prohibits the place-shifting activities from Slingbox or similar devices to "Personal Computers" using AT&T's wireless network. The changes are:
While most common uses for Intranet browsing, e-mail, and Intranet access are permitted by your data plan, there are certain uses that cause extreme network capacity issues and interference with the network and are therefore prohibited. Examples of prohibited uses include, without limitation...downloading movies using P2P file sharing services, redirecting television signals for viewing on Personal Computers, Web broadcasting, and/or for the operation of servers, telemetry devices....
Clearly, AT&T is seeking to keep its wireless network from being overwhelmed by heavy video use, but the restriction is surprising given that it comes during a time of growth for AT&T. Apple is rumored to be releasing a next-generation iPhone with video capabilities this summer, and AT&T is performing network upgrades that are supposed to double download speeds to 7Mbps and eventually higher.
It remains to be seen what effect AT&T's new restrictions might have on the availability of the iPhone SlingPlayer app in the iTunes App Store. As of press time, it still has not been approved for distribution in the store. However, we suspect that the app will eventually be approved, considering that the new TOS does not completely forbid video streaming and does not mention the iPhone or SlingPlayer directly.