AT&T expands FaceTime to individual iOS device users on LTE

Update: While AT&T claims that the move was to safeguard its delicate infrastructure, two public advocacy groups (Freepress, Public Knowledge) are claiming the FCC is looming large. Seth submits a third postulate: The iPad Mini LTE  launch later this month will present a chance for AT&T to grab new tablet customers and AT&T doesn’t want to lose out to competitors with friendlier offers.

AT&T just announced you could now use FaceTime over cellular at no extra charge on the iPhone 5 and LTE iPad if it is on one of the network’s tiered data plans. Today’s announcement opens up FaceTime over cellular to a slew of new customers.

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.

Previously, FaceTime on AT&T’s network was only available for free if a customer was on its new Mobile Share Plans that became available Aug. 23. AT&T said the new set of users would be able to access FaceTime for free over cellular in “8-10 weeks”:

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.

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.

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Apple announces ‘fourth-generation iPad’, starting at $499

Apple has refreshed its third-generation iPad line today, as expected, with a semi-minor upgrade that includes a new Lightning connector, but the company also included some upgraded internals in what it is calling the “fourth-generation iPad.”

“It is a power house,” said Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Philip Schiller while on stage at the event.

The fourth-generation iPad features faster performance with dual-core A6X and quad-core graphics. It also has a 5-megapixel iSight camera, expanded LTE chipset, front-facing camera with FaceTime and 720p video capture, ultrafast two-times Wi-Fi, and Lightening connector.

Additional specs:

  • Next-generation ISP
  • Double CPU performance from A5x
  • Double graphic performance
  • 10-hour battery life
  • LTE support
  • Colors: black and white

This is the first time Apple has unveiled two versions of the 9.7-inch iPad in one year. The fourth-generation iPad is priced at $499 for the 16 GB model and $629 for the 16 GB model with 4G LTE.

Go to 9to5Mac’s full coverage of the fourth-generation iPad for more information about carrier options and the discontinuation of the third-generation iPad. 

An image gallery is below.

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Sprint and Verizon won’t support simultaneous voice and data on iPhone 5

Unlike Verizon’s lineup of LTE Android smartphones, we just confirmed with the carrier that the new iPhone 5 would not support simultaneous voice and data over its LTE network.

A Verizon spokesperson told us:

“The iPhone 5 was designed to allow customers to place a voice call on the Verizon Wireless network, while simultaneously letting customers access the Internet over the WiFi.”

We confirmed with AT&T, however, that the feature will work on its GSM model of the iPhone 5. AT&T told us:

“AT&T customers can talk and surf simultaneously on the new iPhone 5.”

We know Apple is shipping the same CDMA model iPhone 5 to both Sprint and Verizon, so it is probable that Sprint’s iPhone 5 will not support simultaneous voice and data as well.

Some Android devices do simultaneous voice and data on Verizon, so it is probably Apple’s baseband processor choice that led to the situation.

Update: According to the New York Times, the change is due to Apple. An Apple spokesperson explained:

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Report: Korean carriers in talks with Apple over LTE-equipped next-gen iPhone

While most are expecting Apple to include the rumored LTE connectivity in the upcoming next-gen iPhone, we get word from Korea Times today that Korean carriers SK Telecom and KT have revealed they are currently in talks with Apple to carry a new iPhone on their LTE networks:

SK Telecom and KT are in talks to offer long-term evolution (LTE) connectivity on Apple’s next handset, tentatively named the iPhone 5, officials from the companies said Wednesday…The two local telecom companies are authorized Korean partners to sell the American firm’s i-branded devices here. The smallest carrier LG Uplus is unable to sell Apple’s products as it doesn’t own a suitable frequency.

According to an official at KT, which is home to roughly 1.4 million users compared to SK Telecom’s 4 million LTE subscribers, the carrier is in talks “with Apple to persuade the latter to support KT’s 1.8-gigahertz frequency in Korea for the upcoming iPhone.” Although it’s unclear exactly what type of negotiations might be taking place, we know the current third-gen LTE iPad supports only AT&T, Verizon, and a few Canadian carriers on 700 MHz and 2100 MHz frequency bands. If the talks are indeed to discuss launching an LTE iPhone with support for the 800 MHz and 1800 MHz bands, it’s importnat to note that many other markets also operate over those bands including Australia and parts of Europe.
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AT&T activated 4.3M iPhones last quarter, over 78 percent of its smartphone activations

AT&T is still the “iPhone network,” according to numbers  from its quarterly earnings report. AT&T sold 5.5 million smartphones in the quarter, but 4.3 million of the smartphones activated were iPhones. That means the iPhone represented a whopping 78 percent of total smartphone sales (although some “iPhone activations” could have been hand me downs). Additionally, AT&T’s postpaid customers are almost 60 percent smartphone customers, which means AT&T’s iPhone customers represent a huge percentage of its base—nearly 5o percent and growing.

Verizon announced numbers last week including 3.2 million iPhones sold. While the iPhone is down significantly from the holiday quarter, it is up from 3.6 million activations in Q1 2011. Apple’s earnings will be reported at the end of the day today.

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Skype for iPad updated for Retina display, VGA front camera still 640×480

Skype for iPad got a Retina update this morning, meaning its icons and menus will not show pixelated fonts that will harm your new iPad Retina sensibilities. Unfortunately, the new iPad’s front-facing camera is still VGA, and we are pretty sure Skype is not pulling 2048-by-1500 pixel video feeds though your LTE connection just yet.

Still, it is exciting to see Skype updating for anything within months of release.

 

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