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FaceTime over cellular coming for more AT&T customers

Little by little AT&T(s T) is backing off its initial policy of enabling Apple’s FaceTime service over a cellular connection to only certain customers. On Wednesday, the carrier said it would open the capability to iPhone or iPad(s AAPL) users on tiered data plans. The update will be rolled out sometime over the next couple of weeks.

AT&T explained the decision on its corporate blog:

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.

This means iPhone 4S customers with tiered plans will be able to make FaceTime calls over the AT&T cellular network.  AT&T previously made FaceTime over Cellular available to customers with a Mobile Share plan and those with an LTE device on tiered plans.

FaceTime has always been available to any subscriber for use over a Wi-Fi connection, but AT&T came under fire this summer when Apple enabled it for cell networks and the carrier said only customers who subscribed to one of its new Mobile Share plans could use it. Several open internet groups threatened to file complaints with the FCC, saying AT&T’s action was a violation of net neutrality.

In November, the carrier opened the service to anyone with an LTE device. Now the only AT&T customers who are still blocked from the service are those still using one of its older unlimited service plans. If you’re still grandfathered into an unlimited plan and waiting for FaceTime you may be waiting a while, however. AT&T is trying to move unlimited customers onto capped data tiers so it will be reluctant to give those customers access to a video chat service guaranteed to consume even more 3G and 4G network capacity.

3 Responses to “FaceTime over cellular coming for more AT&T customers”

  1. AT&T should have already been broken up. The second they reclaimed the AT&T moniker, the government should have pounced. I’m waiting for them to reunite with Verizon and T-Mobile so we’ll have the excuse to, frankly, burn their offices down. ‘Cause if the government’s too corrupt to do it…

  2. This is exactly why people jailbreak and root their devices. I have been doing FaceTime over 3G since the iPhone 4 came out in 2010 and it has always worked wonderfully. AT&T already has removed unlimited data plans and force users down to 2GB data plans as a way to drive paranoia about overages, effectively killing innovation in the mobile video space.

    • I found AT&T 3G coverage to be quite iffy for FaceTime calls, LTE is much better for video calling.

      Best way to handle iPhone overage-anxiety is switch to T-Mobile for $50/month; unlimited voice, texts, 3G data, and 500GB of LTE data. No overage charges ever.