ATT blocks Google Play Movies over LTE and 3G

first_imgIt feels like, out of all the carriers in the US, AT&T has been the most restrictive. They blocked FaceTime on the iPhone over 3G to save bandwidth, they disabled NFC on several Android phones over the last year, and it is rumored that they will soon be re-structuring their payment tiers on iOS to restrict WiFi hotspots. It’s not that long ago the company used to block the installation of third party apps on Android phones as well. So, when I received a warning (during my review of the Motorola Atrix HD) this week telling me that I couldn’t watch a movie over AT&T’s budding LTE network, I can’t say I was surprised. While I certainly wasn’t expecting the warning, it really just feels like par for the course when it comes to dealing with AT&T.Since just about every Android device comes with the Google Play Store, and by extension Google Play Movies, I typically use the service to give me a good idea of network streaming quality and the device’s ability to render an HD movie over HDMI. Like every other device I had tested in recent memory, I opened the Play Store, selected a movie I hadn’t seen in awhile, and took my seat while it began playback. Instead of The Anchorman, however, I was greeted with an error message telling me that I was not allowed to stream this movie over the mobile network. Assuming it was just an error, I tried again and got the same message. After a few minutes of playing with settings, it became clear that I was not going to be able to watch this movie without WiFi.Yes, it seems that AT&T has removed the ability to watch Google Play Movie files over their 3G and LTE networks. This only happens with Google Play Movies, and only on AT&T. I can watch Netflix, YouTube, and HBOGO with no problems at all. The only difference is that I need to install apps for everything but YouTube and Google Play Movies. YouTube files are comparably much smaller, and therefor use far less bandwidth than a movie, so that app remains unrestricted. Curiously enough, you can download or “pin” a Google Play Movie over 3G and LTE and the only warning you get is one from Google explaining that you might incur data costs.I can’t imagine any real world justification for this behavior. If you pay your carrier for an internet connection to your phone, should the provider really be allowed to control how you use that connection? What’s more is that this happened over AT&T’s high speed and mostly empty LTE network. I can easily create a wireless hotspot on this same phone and stream a video from the Nexus 7, using the exact same data connection to accomplish the exact same task. This move is confusing at best, and AT&T is going to quickly alienate customers eager to take advantage of their brand new LTE devices as they receive them.last_img read more