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Thursday November 8, 2012 9:16 pm

FaceTime coming to AT&T cellular tiered data plans in 8-10 weeks


Facetime over cellular mobile shared and tiered plans

AT&T has announced on its public policy blog that FaceTime over cellular will be available to iPhone and iPad users with several caveats. Users must have LTE versions of iPads and iPhones and must be on a tiered plan. Previously FaceTime on AT&T was only available for customers on mobile shared plans. However, the rollout is not immediate. AT&T expects it to take 8-10 weeks, which is unusually slow. The decision has come after much pressure from customers, public advocacy groups, and the media.

Still, AT&T's policy change is a half-hearted attempt as it doesn't fully cave in to demands. It omits a larger group of customer that are not on LTE from using FaceTime over cellular on 3G and "4G." Also, it continues its hostility toward customers of grandfathered unlimited data plans on any cellular mode. The FCC has warned that discriminatory practices on citizen owned spectrums will not be tolerated in accordance with net neutrality regulations. AT&T is cherry picking customers based on monetary gains and not necessarily reasons of management of network congestion.

Public advocacy groups, like Public Knowledge and Free Press, have made statements regarding the changes.


"Our primary goal all along has been to bring a swift end to AT&T's practices that harm consumers, competition and innovation, An FCC complaint offers a path to a positive resolution for consumers, but it’s a path with an uncertain timeline. So we are willing to wait and see if AT&T will follow through with its promise to end its illegal practices in short order. We still intend to pursue legal action against AT&T if it doesn’t make FaceTime available to all of its customers quickly." - Public Knowledge Senior Staff Attorney John Bergmayer

"The law is clear, AT&T cannot block FaceTime based on claims of potential congestion. There’s nothing even remotely reasonable about that approach. AT&T simply can’t justify blocking an app that competes with its voice and texting services unless customers purchase a more expensive monthly plan that includes an unlimited amount of those very same services. AT&T's course correction is a move in the right direction, but until the company makes FaceTime available to all of its customers it is still in violation of the FCC's rules and the broader principles of Net Neutrality." - Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood

AT&T offers a glimmer of hope that they will assess FaceTime on other billing plans. Still, if history is any indicator, we should take the statement with a grain of salt. Historically, AT&T has proven countless of times that it's not out of their own volition that policy changes are enacted that benefit its customers

"We will continue to gather and assess the network data on this issue over the next few months and anticipate that we will be able to expand the availability of FaceTime to our customers on other billing plans in the near future." - AT&T Senior Executive Vice President Jim Cicconi

Meanwhile, Verizon and Sprint offer FaceTime over cellular to customers with no artificial limitations.

Read More | AT&T

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