AT&T Wireless Bans Slingboxes

Dave Zatz —  April 3, 2009

AT&T Downs Slingbox

AT&T Wireless has pretty explicitly dropped the hammer on Slingbox owners, amongst others, via their revised terms of service:

customer initiated redirection of television [...] to a mobile device [...] is prohibited

Some speculate this language is in response to oversized and unintentional roaming fees. Others believe AT&T has “oversold” or is approaching their network capacity and this is a way free up bandwidth. I have a more pessimistic, Net non-Neutrality theory in that AT&T would prefer we subscribe to their limited selection of MobiTV television content in lieu of streaming home video (which I’ve already paid for). Regardless of the reason(s), I’m not a happy AT&T customer today.

Assuming that they’re for real and intend to aggressively go after Slingers, AT&T has a few methods at their disposal to prevent or limit streaming. By default, a Slingbox broadcasts on port 5001 – so that would be an easy target. However, folks can easily modify their placeshifter to communicate via a bit more web friendly like 443. AT&T could block access to Sling’s FinderID DNS-esque directory service. Requiring customers to figure out their own, likely rotating, home IP address. They could also throttle or drop persistent connections, analyze packets, yada, yada. Hopefully, AT&T is just blowing smoke and is primarily concerned with limiting bandwidth usage. As in: perhaps they won’t bother anyone who stays below that 5GB monthly cap. Guess we’ll find out…

12 responses to AT&T Wireless Bans Slingboxes

  1. If they are really serious, this means the Sling iPhone client won’t get approved, right?

  2. Apple is not AT&T. Although, Sling will most likely only be approved as a WiFi app, given Skype (and their blog post) and Apple’s relationship/”respect” for the carriers. The plot thickens…

  3. I posted this other places, but I find it ODD that AT&T touts with the UVERSE service, that one can watch their IP TV at home, on a laptop, on a MOBILE PHONE, etc. I’m not sure if they mean they are serving YOUR TV to your mobile phone, but NOT from a fixed location, but not really sure what their CV mobile service is meant to provide if it isn’t mobile TV.

    And, why would they put the Youtube application on the iphone, if they don’t want to allow access for video?

  4. I guess we’ll have to wait and seee what happens. When I bought my last phone (Tilt at the time) I had 2 requirements…it had to be Sling capable and it had to be 3G. I don’t watch a lot of TV on my phone usually at most maybe 5-10 mins. I guess the one thing to look for now in phones will be is it WiFi ready, which the iPhone is and most of the HTC phones seem to be. This cannot make the folks at Sling or Apple too happy though.

  5. So confused. I just read about how the Slingbox app *will* be available for iPhone, but will only work with new Slingboxes. How can AT&T ban Slingbox streaming but still release the app? For wireless use only?

    I already have a VIP on a non-standard port for my Slingbox, and I use dynDNS, so I can access it from anywhere. My 3G connection seems to sucks enough that I probably couldn’t stream from my Sling anyway.

  6. The web page terms/language haven’t been changed (back)… yet?

  7. It’s funny. Engadget gets a statement from someone at AT&T, and now life is peachy again. In that statement they said “we have since removed it.” That means, it’s already been done. But did anybody bother to look and see if it was actually removed?

    Fact is, as of right this minute, the terms of use has not been modified on AT&T’s website, and therefore have not been retracted. SlingCommunity and I aren’t buying it until they’ve actually removed their “oops” language from their terms of use.

  8. Now here is one fast moving story is it not? I just finished quoting Dave at Howard Forums (plenty of credit Dave!! you work hard!!) and before I could edit it, I get EMAIL from someone telling ,me about this Gizmodo link http://i.gizmodo.com/5197758/att-says-horrible-terms-of-service-update-was-all-a-big-mistake (Basically same as Engadget)

    Dave has said it right though, terms and conditions changed yet? LOL

  9. Looks like AT&T’s webmaster finally woke up from his nap to remove that offensive language from their site. Of course the lawyer-drafted verbiage wasn’t an “error” as stated, but I’m pleased with their swift reaction to our vocal protest. Then again, I no longer have a legit means of breaking my contract. ;)

  10. “mistake” – yeah right. This whole loop is a reminder of:

    1 – Just how stuck in the past, utterly unable to grasp the realities of 2009, the decision makers at AT&T are. They still think ( wish? ) it was the hey day of their monopoly in 1978 when customers could not communicate with each other and had to write postal mail to complain.

    2 – This will all end in tears, AGAIN, if we don’t bring Net Neutrality back from the dead. AT&T knows they can keep pulling stunts like this ( and they will keep trying ) without any repercussions because their lobbyists bribed your congressmen to vote against Net Neutrality.

    …the next time it comes up for a vote, call your congressional representatives and demand they forgo the all expenses paid trip to go play in the AT&T golf tournament in the Bahamas and PASS NET NEUTRALITY!

    savetheinternet ( dawt ) com

  11. Violatin’ terms of service is what I do best