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AT&T up on FCC's Wi-Fi calling waiver


AT&T has gotten a waiver from the Federal Communications Commission to begin offering Wi-Fi calling to cellular customers.

Shares of AT&T (T), which asked for the waiver in June, were up nearly 1% Wednesday to $33.17.

In a note on the communications company’s Public Policy blog, AT&T senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs Jim Cicconi expressed concern as to why competitors T-Mobile and Sprint have been allowed to offer Wi-Fi calling without FCC approval.

“We’re grateful the FCC has granted AT&T’s waiver request so we can begin providing Wi-Fi calling,” he says. “At the same time we are left scratching our heads as to why the FCC still seems intent on excusing the behavior of T-Mobile and Sprint, who have been offering these services without a waiver for quite some time. Instead of initiating enforcement action against them, or at least opening an investigation, the agency has effectively invited them to now apply for similar waivers and implied that their prior flaunting of FCC rules will be ignored. ”

The waiver, which expires at the end of 2017, lets AT&T begin offering Wi-Fi calling without also offering teletypewriter communications (TTY) for the deaf, hard of hearing, and speech-impaired. AT&T wants to use real-time texting instead because it works better over Internet.

No word yet on when Wi-Fi calling feature is available to AT&T customers.

Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider

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