Using FaceTime on mobile broadband networks is supported in iOS 6 and up to now, I’ve been testing the video chat service with the beta software on my iPhone 4S. I say “up to now” because with the latest beta, version 3, I can’t use the feature any longer. As 9to5 Mac noted on Monday evening, attempting to use FaceTime on a cellular data connection causes a pop-up to appear, suggesting that AT&T, and possibly other carriers, will sell the service.
We won’t know for sure if using FaceTime on a mobile broadband connection will cost extra until Apple officially releases the iOS 6 software, but it’s a pretty safe bet: Why have the pop-up asking users to contact their carrier for support if not? Additionally, Apple did the same with mobile tethering, at least in the U.S.. To use an iPhone as a mobile hotspot, you typically have to pay an additioal fee for the feature.
The new Verizon Wireless Share Everything plans already include the mobile hotspot feature for smartphones, so perhaps the operator will simply bundle in FaceTime usage as well. AT&T has yet to announce its own family plans, however, it should be doing so in the near future and will likely be similar to those offered by Verizon. But based on the pop-up message from FaceTime, the video chat service may not be included in a bundled plan. This could be among the first examples of future data add-ons for specific applications; something we’ve noted before as a way for operators to find creative ways to boost data revenues.
After testing FaceTime on AT&T’s HSPA+ network, I doubt I’d pay extra for it. While it works fine, the quality is nowhere near as good as using the service on Wi-Fi. Call recipients reported frozen images and general video choppiness. Of course, this is a beta version of the software, so I’m not going to condemn it now. But I can’t see myself paying for it when I can use similar, cross-platforms alternatives for free that provide the same experience.
How about you? Will you pay for FaceTime over mobile broadband if there’s a fee? Have at it in our poll and if the answer depends on the cost, drop a comment about what you’d pay on a monthly basis for this.