AT&T decided today to reverse its controversial decision blocking FaceTime calls over LTE data networks from customers who don't subscribe to one of the carrier's shared data plans.
However, the change only affects devices that connect to AT&T's 4G LTE network, not older 3G devices. It also only works if you have a tiered or shared data plan. If you're grandfathered into an unlimited data plan, you'll only be able to use FaceTime over Wi-Fi.
It'll take eight to 10 weeks for AT&T to open up the FaceTime functionality over LTE to iPhones and iPads.
Apple's latest version of iOS, the operating system for iPhones and iPads, was the first that let you make FaceTime video calls over a cellular data connection. But AT&T decided to block the feature from customers who didn't have a shared data plan. As a result, a lot of customers complained. The FCC got involved. Things got ugly.
In a blog post today, AT&T's senior executive vice president-external and legislative affairs Jim Cicconi explained why the carrier is opening FaceTime up to customers on tiered data plans. Cicconi said that since AT&T has more iPhones than any other carrier, it wanted to take a cautious approach with FaceTime over cellular to avoid choking the network:
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.
Cicconi closed by saying AT&T will continue to monitor FaceTime usage and may open it up to customers on other types of data plans in the future.
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