AT&T Uses Semantics to Justify Locking Down SlingPlayer For iPhoneS

We all know that tens of thousands of iPhones streaming TV 3G from their Slingboxes would slow down AT&T's already saggy network. What we don't get is how AT&T is justifying their position.

Here's AT&T's stance:

Slingbox, which would use large amounts of wireless network capacity, could create congestion and potentially prevent other customers from using the network. The application does not run on our 3G wireless network. Applications like this, which redirects a TV signal to a personal computer, are specifically prohibited under our terms of service. We consider smartphones like the iPhone to be personal computers in that they have the same hardware and software attributes as PCs.

That said, we don't restrict users from going to a Web site 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.

The Slingbox application for the iPhone runs on WiFi. That's good news for AT&T's iPhone 3G customers, who get free WiFi access at our 20,000 owned and operated hot spots in the U.S., including Starbucks, McDonalds, Barnes & Noble, hotels, and airports. AT&T is the industry leader in WiFi.

They're saying that watching regular video on the internet is fine (it better be, since YouTube is bundled right on the damn phone), but Sling is not because it "redirect[s] a TV signal to a personal computer." Ignoring the personal computer part (others phones are still able to stream Sling over 3G, which is kind of an insult to Windows Mobile phones and BlackBerry phones), Sling is not a TV signal. It is streaming video, which happens to be TV, but is really no different from a YouTube video.

Seriously, there's no actual difference other than the fact that people would use a lot more bandwidth when they're using a SlingPlayer for their iPhone because they're watching full shows instead of 2 minute clips, and that would kill the AT&T network. Why are customers paying for unlimited internet when it's not unlimited? Thanks, AT&T. [Sling for iPhone review]