AT&T Extends FaceTime Over Cellular to All Tiered Data Users
AT&T is extending FaceTime over cellular to any compatible iOS device on a tiered data plan.
“As a result of ongoing testing, we’re announcing AT&T will enable FaceTime over Cellular at no extra charge for customers with any tiered data plan using a compatible iOS device,” AT&T’s senior vice president of data and voice products, Mark Collins, wrote in a Wednesday blog post.
Collins said AT&T has already started updating its system and will begin rolling out FaceTime over cellular to more iDevices “in the next couple of weeks.”
“Customers do not need to do anything—the update will be applied automatically over the next few months,” he wrote.
AT&T caused a bit of a stir last year when it announced that customers could only tap into FaceTime over cellular if they subscribed to one of AT&T’s shared data plans. Amidst the uproar – and allegations of net neutrality abuse – AT&T in November backed down and said it would allow users on tiered data plans to also use FaceTime over cellular.
Initially, AT&T only extended the service to 4G LTE devices, which would be the iPhone 5 and the newest iPads. Now, the carrier is allowing other devices that are compatible with FaceTime over cellular, which includes the iPhone 4S.
Earlier iOS devices can still tap into FaceTime while on Wi-Fi networks.
Apple announced plans for FaceTime over celluar at its June Worldwide Developer Conference, in an effort to broaden the reach of a product that had been otherwise overlooked by services like Skype. Previously, iOS users could only tap into FaceTime if they were both on Wi-Fi networks.
FaceTime over cellular is also available on iOS devices from Verizon and Sprint.
Public Knowledge and Free Press, which accused AT&T of the net neutrality violations last year, said the update means “AT&T almost, but not quite, stops violating net neutrality.”
The groups urged AT&T to also extend FaceTime over cellular to those who are grandfathered in to AT&T’s old unlimited data plans.
“AT&T’s announcement is another step in the right direction. It shows once again that the FCC’s Open Internet rules can create more consumer certainty, as they work to give people more choices and freedom in use of their data,” Free Press policy director Matt Wood said in a statement. “Yet as we’ve made clear all along, the company has no right to block the application in the first place. Until AT&T makes FaceTime available to all of its customers, it is still in violation of the law and the broader principles of Net Neutrality. We remain ready to bring our complaint unless AT&T finishes the job and stops blocking this application altogether.”
By Stephanie Mlot, PCMag