AT&T to allow FaceTime on cellular

AT&T has announced that iPhone customers will be able to use Apple’s popular FaceTime app if they sign up to one of the operator’s data-sharing plans, according to a story published by Dow Jones Newswires.

iPhone users have already been able to use FaceTime over WiFi connections but software developers had blocked cellular access to FaceTime on a prerelease version of the iOS 6 operating system, due to be released in the autumn.

AT&T has announced that iPhone customers will be able to use Apple’s popular FaceTime app if they sign up to one of the operator’s data-sharing plans, according to a story published by Dow Jones Newswires.

iPhone users have already been able to use FaceTime over WiFi connections but software developers had blocked cellular access to FaceTime on a prerelease version of the iOS 6 operating system, due to be released in the autumn.

The story claims that iOS 6 will allow customers to use the video-calling application on AT&T’s cellular networks provided they sign up to one of the operator’s data-sharing plans.

“AT&T will offer FaceTime over cellular as an added benefit of our new Mobile Share data plans,” said AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel in a statement quoted in the story.

Because video calling gobbles up bandwidth on cellular networks, some commentators had expected AT&T to block or restrict access to FaceTime on iOS 6 devices.

The operator recently published details of its data-sharing plans, which will allow data usage to be shared among several users and devices when launched later this week.

Rival operator Verizon has already launched its own data-sharing plans.

America’s big cellular operators have previously blocked access to bandwidth-intensive applications on their networks.

AT&T has prevented its customers from “tethering” their iPhones to other data devices, fearing this could use up capacity on its data networks.

Recently, Verizon was hit with a $1.25 million fine by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for similarly blocking apps that allowed customers to use smartphones as WiFi hotspots.

The operator was penalised for disregarding the “open access” conditions of its 700MHz spectrum license, requiring it not to “deny, limit or restrict the ability of … customers to use the devices and application of their choice” on its network.