AT&T on Monday said it plans to more broadly enable the use of Apple’s FaceTime for users over its cellular network in the next few weeks, and by year’s end plans to allow video chat apps use over its network by all customers. This latest position on FaceTime and similar apps represents total shift from its position almost a year ago.
AT&T’s statement to the Verge on Monday notes that “by mid-June, we’ll have enabled those apps over cellular for our unlimited plan customers who have LTE devices from [Apple, Samsung and BlackBerry].” Besides FaceTime, Samsung and BlackBerry’s pre-installed video chat apps will also be included.
And more will be coming for all of its customers before the end of the year: “Throughout the second half of this year, we plan to enable pre-loaded video chat apps over cellular for all our customers, regardless of data plan or device; that work is expected to be complete by year end.”
When Apple updated its mobile video chat app to work over cellular last summer, AT&T came under fire when it announced subsequently that only customers who subscribed to one of its Mobile Share plans could use it. Several open internet groups threatened to file complaints with the FCC, calling the carrier’s policy a violation of net neutrality. Several months later, AT&T opened the service to anyone with an LTE device.
Based on broadness of the statement, it sounds like video chat apps like Google’s new Hangouts app, which is available over AT&T’s cellular network now for some iOS customers, will work over cellular for Android customers later on this year.
This post was updated on 5/21 to clarify that the iOS version of Google Hangouts is available for use over cellular networks now.