11 Comments

Summary:

I’ve been testing FaceTime over cellular data for a few weeks using the iOS 6 beta software. It works OK, but not as good as on Wi-Fi. Now, a new pop-up message indicates that carriers may charge for the service over their networks. Will you pay?

FaceTime+over+cellular

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.

  1. Perry Harris Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    Seems to me that this is an opportunity for a third party FaceTime style app.

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  2. Skype to Skype

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  3. Alexander M Zhang Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    In China, you may pay admission to a zoo – they then charge you another individual fee at each exhibit. (Some American zoos do this as well, with “special” exhibits.)
    We already pay for wireless data service. To pay extra to use that service for a particular app invites them to charge extra for other app uses as well.

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  4. Dan Villiom Podlaski Christiansen Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    I’d switch wireless provider on the spot… (I doubt it’ll happen here in Denmark.)

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  5. It makes no sense. It is just like the tethering option. You have the set limit of dada if you go over then they will charge you. If I can’t tether or Facetime I am 100% less likely to go over my data. If I could Facetime and tether I would use at least another GB a month but enough to have the 5GB a month plan.

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  6. Seriously AT&T? What’s the point in paying for data if your going to restrict every aspect of it? I want a flat rate service with all you can eat data at what ever price point you feel will cover the cost of all these services. $99 a mo. Fine, lets do this. I’ll be glad when some small company comes out of no where and knocks all the wireless companies off their “Monetize first, innovate only when necessary” high horse with some real innovation. The grid network is coming for you and it’s coming in the form of wifi.

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  7. James Hannibal Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    I will definitely not pay extra just to use FaceTime. I also know that at least several hundred of the people I know feel the same way.

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  8. I can’t see Verizon charging for this on the new Share Everything Plan. You already have an allotted amount of data since unlimited plans have gone away. It would now be to the carrier’s benefit to let you use all you want and hopefully go over the limit so they can charge you more.

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  9. Why the hell should we pay for it, I mean we don’t have to pay to use Skype over the 3G!! Another rip off.

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  10. I’m using FaceTime on AT&T cellular with iOS 6, but I’ve never gotten a pop-up screen.

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