Update: AT&T reinstates (old) anti-Slingbox language in TOS

Update: Engadget notes that, in fact, these are just the same old terms we've been living under for a while now. So, nothing new to see here. In other news, the sky is falling.

It's baaaack. Nearly a month after updating and then un-updating its terms of service, AT&T again has put in a clause that could make apps like Slingbox a big no-no.

Here's the section we're interested in, emphasis ours:

... 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 and/or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition devices is prohibited. Furthermore, plans (unless specifically designated for tethering usage) cannot be used for any applications that tether the device (through use of, including without limitation, connection kits, other phone/PDA-to computer accessories, Bluetooth® or any other wireless technology) to Personal Computers (including without limitation, laptops), or other equipment for any purpose.

We're trying to get clarification on the "viewing on Personal Computers" clause. Smartphones certainly could be argued into that category, though the TOS use the word "phone" in a number of other instances. We'll let you know what we find out. In the meantime, you can read the whole TOS for yourself (opens in new tab).

DSL Reports via Electronista

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  • Why do all these companies try to fight progress in technology rather than work with it? Understand that people want to use the internet in a certain way and improve your service to cover that need. Here's my odd analogy (hope you get it?).....How many times have you seen a footpath in a park....nice crafted, well maintained....but nobody ever uses it because they prefer taking a better route....straight across the nicely trimmed lawn! What would have been better, is to see where people want to walk...and build the best ever path there! These companies are trying to making people walk on their path and then get cheesed-off when we say we wanna walk across their lawn!
  • Wow. They're really sweating that thing coming to the iPhone aren't they? I figured they'd still leave the copy in a way to allow it for other devices, but then lean on Apple (who probably isn't exactly thrilled with an app that hurts iTunes sales) to neuter it for the iPhone they same way they did with Skype by limiting it to work on wifi only. Oh well. *resumes streaming TV via Orb from his Sprint connection*
  • In essense, they don't want you sharing your Phone's data plan with your *other* computing devices. This does not prevent you from video streaming to your phone. I don't know much about AT&T's plans... but if they do offer a premium plan that allows it to be shared with your laptop it looks like they want to cap/block high bandwidth applications on that tethered device.
  • I can understand why they do it. Any cell tower can only handle so many data sessions at once; and an streaming app will definitely hog one data channel. If everyone uses it then not everyone would be able to establish a connection. I think they are stilll stuck in the late 90's era where using your phone for data sessions meant downloading itty-bitty chunks of text very esporadically. But that does not mean I am happy with their words. Times have changed. AT&T should come up with a better solution for this, either beefing up the network to handle more data sessions or intelligently managing bandwidth per user. And also, they should not be advertising and selling the idea of unlimited data if in fact they pull off these kinds of moves.