AT&T will allow LTE devices use FaceTime over cellular—if you have a tired data or Mobile Share plan. The rollout is planned to take 8-10 weeks to move across the subscriber base.
AT&T announced today via press release and blog post that if you have an LTE device (therefore iPhone 5, iPad 4, or iPad mini) you’ll be able to use FaceTime over AT&T’s cellular network:
AT&T today announced it will enable FaceTime over Cellular at no extra charge for iOS 6 customers with an LTE device on any tiered data plan. AT&T will also continue to offer FaceTime over Cellular to customers with any AT&T Mobile Share plan, as well as FaceTime over Wi-Fi, which has always been available.
We expect to roll out this functionality over the next 8-10 weeks. In addition, we are informing our deaf and hard of hearing customers that, as of October 26, we began rolling out several new billing plans designed to allow them to make use of FaceTime. This is part of our ongoing commitment to our customers with disabilities, and it’s a commitment which is very important to us.
While both Sprint and Verizon customers have been able to use FaceTime over cellular, this is new for AT&T (always cautious with adding data-sucking features). The intro paragraph in AT&T’s blog post tries to walk the line of “we want to protect our network” and “okay, we hear you, you want this”:
As most observers are aware, Apple’s FaceTime application is currently enabled on AT&T’s popular Mobile Share plan as well as on Wi-Fi, though not at this time on our other billing plans. This approach has raised questions and some concerns. We decided to take this cautious approach for important reasons. AT&T has by far more iPhones on our network than any other carrier. We’re proud of this fact and the confidence our customers have in us. But it also means that when Apple rolls out new services or changes, as it did in iOS 6, it can have a much greater, and more immediate, impact on AT&T’s network than is the case with carriers who have far fewer iPhone users.
Not being an AT&T customer (Telus is my carrier while my wife uses Fido), I haven’t had to deal with the travails that you in the States might have. But, this is a step in the right direction I think. Maybe coupled with AT&T’s $14B investment in its network, maybe it won’t suck as much for you.
The commitment to the deaf and hard of hearing customers, as you may or may not know, is due to Alexander Graham Bell. His wife was deaf, he worked a great deal in the deaf community, and the telephone was invented, in part, to help his wife.