Sling Media blames Apple for denying app 3G support

Placeshifting technology developer Sling Media finally issued the long-awaited iPhone edition of its SlingPlayer Mobile video application last week, but the release version of the app does not include 3G support--although AT&T took the fall for the controversy that followed, contending 3G streaming would consume too much network capacity, Sling notes the service is WiFi-only at Apple's request. SlingPlayer for iPhone, which enables users to stream live and recorded television content from their home entertainment system to their mobile device, launched last Tuesday with a whopping App Store price of $29.99--in an email reprinted by Mobility Today, Sling Media boasts the application "sports a super slick interface, great video quality, plus lots of new features" before adding the following caveat: "SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone is WiFi only at Apple's request."

According to AT&T, apps like SlingPlayer pose too much of a bandwidth threat to operate over 3G: "Slingbox, which would use large amounts of wireless network capacity, could create congestion and potentially prevent other customers from using the network," the operator said. "Applications like this, which redirect a TV signal to a personal computer, are specifically prohibited under our terms of service." AT&T goes on to point out that iPhone 3G subscribers can access free WiFi service at more than 20,000 carrier-owned and operated U.S. hotspots, including Starbucks, McDonalds, Barnes & Noble, hotels and airports.

But here's where it gets really interesting: AT&T apparently does not consider the iPhone a phone... even though it's called the iPhone. "We consider smartphones like the iPhone to be personal computers in that they have the same hardware and software attributes as PCs," AT&T argues. "We don't restrict users from going to a website that lets them view videos. But what our terms and conditions prohibit is the transferring, or slinging, of a TV signal to their personal computer or smartphone."

For more on the SlingPlayer Mobile controversy:
- read this Mobility Today article

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