This is great news: when AT&T announced FaceTime over Cellular for its new Mobile Share customers, plenty of people were angry that the carrier wasn’t allowing it for those with older plans. That’s changing now. The carrier announced Thursday that anyone with a tiered data plan – and an LTE-capable iPhone or iPad – will soon be able to use FaceTime over Cellular, provided that they have iOS 6 installed. In other words, iPhone 4S owners still need to subscribe to a MobileShare plan to take advantage of FaceTime over Cellular. The option is also available to deaf customers, or others who are hard of hearing, who have special text and data-only subscriptions.
So why did AT&T have a change of heart? The company explained on in a blog post today. “We decided to take this cautious approach for important reasons,” AT&T said. “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.”
The carrier said that there wasn’t a way for engineers to effectively predict how FaceTime over Cellular would impact its network before everyone had access to it, so it wanted to be cautious ahead of time to make sure that voice quality wasn’t affected across all devices. FaceTime over Cellular for tiered plans and 4G LTE iOS 6 devices will begin to roll out during the next 8-10 weeks.
Wondering about your unlimited plan? It seems plausible. The carrier said it anticipates that it will “expand the availability of FaceTime to our customers on other billing plans in the near future.”