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.