We broke the news just a month ago that AT&T looked like it was prepping to limit the use of FaceTime over cellular, and we find today that limitation was indeed the intention. As with most Friday after-work announcements, this is bad news – for AT&T customers.
We just got the word directly from AT&T that Facetime over 3G and 4G would only be available on AT&T for those who choose to go with its new “Mobile Share” plans. If you have an individual plan or family plan, you will not be able to purchase or use FaceTime over 3G/4G at any price. Pre-paid? Nope.
The official statement:
AT&T will offer FaceTime over Cellular as an added benefit of our new Mobile Share data plans, which were created to meet customers’ growing data needs at a great value. With Mobile Share, the more data you use, the more you save. FaceTime will continue to be available over Wi-Fi for all our customers.
AT&T noted that you could still use FaceTime over Wi-Fi with an AT&T iPhone. *Slow Clap*.
As for the competition, Sprint already announced that it will not hinder FaceTime over cellular, and Verizon is being forced not to mess with it because of a Net Neutrality promise.
I’m not sure how smart a move this is for a company that has a quarter of the LTE infrastructure as Verizon. AT&T might have been able to pull this when they had faster 3G, exclusive simultaneous Talk+Data and broader international roaming. But with Verizon’s much broader LTE coverage and Sprint’s much more generous plans, there is hardly a reason to stick with AT&T.
Also, we get into the legality of blocking a service. The FCC forced AT&T to allow Skype over 4G, so how is this OK?