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7/17/2012
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AT&T May Charge For iOS 6 FaceTime Over 3G

Apple's iOS 6 operating system offers you the new ability to make FaceTime calls over 3G. But AT&T might charge extra for this feature.

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Apple rolled out a third beta of iOS 6 to developers on Monday that included a number of bug fixes, adjustments, and new features for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch operating system. Buried in one of the settings pages was one unsettling change: It appears AT&T is prepared to charge its customers extra to use FaceTime over 3G.

Eagle-eyed beta testers over at 9to5mac noticed a new screen when attempting to test FaceBook over 3G with their iPhones running iOS 6 beta 3. They were blocked by a pop-up message from AT&T that directed them to contact AT&T in order to enable FaceTime over 3G on their accounts. AT&T uses a similar pop-up message to head off iPhone owners attempting to set up the mobile hotspot feature, which requires an extra $20 monthly fee to be used.

Interestingly, when the 9to5mac team attempted to replicate the warning message results using a Verizon Wireless iPhone, they were not met with the same screen directing them to contact Verizon in order to use FaceTime over 3G.

[ For a sneak peek at the next iPhone display technology, see iPhone 5 Display To Use In-Cell Tech. ]

AT&T, responding to queries from 9to5mac about their finding, said in a statement, "We're working closely with Apple on the new developer build of iOS6 and we'll share more information with our customers as it becomes available."

That means AT&T will probably remain mum on the subject until Apple launches iOS 6 to all iOS device users later this year.

FaceTime was launched with iOS 4 on the iPhone 4 in June 2010. Since launch, it has only worked via Wi-Fi wireless connections and not via cellular wireless connections. In other words, iPhone and iPad users looking to spend some quality face-to-face time with one another have to find a Wi-Fi network first. Wi-Fi networks are of course hyper local, whereas cellular data networks are far more ubiquitous.

That changed in June when Apple announced iOS 6 at its Worldwide Developer Conference. One of iOS 6's many new features is support for conducting FaceTime over 3G/4G cellular data networks in addition to Wi-Fi.

FaceTime over Wi-Fi has always been free. That is likely to remain unchanged, but AT&T might not allow its iPhone customers to hog up its cellular bandwidth without paying extra for it. The question is, how much extra? AT&T used to offer a Video Share service that was appallingly expensive. Users had to pay a varying monthly fee in addition to per-minute charges of $0.25.

My guess is AT&T won't go by the per-minute rate, but will instead ask customers to pay an extra $5 or $10 per month in order to use FaceTime over 3G/4G.

Will you pay for this feature, or do you even use FaceTime over Wi-Fi?

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[anonymous]
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[anonymous],
User Rank: Apprentice
7/20/2012 | 8:33:55 PM
re: AT&T May Charge For iOS 6 FaceTime Over 3G
I just thought of something. In today's day and age, some of us may do a lot of video chatting. I can imagine a lot of us do not want to pay for a plan, but think of this. You have an option to get a plan for FaceTime which would be a reasonable monthly fee to have unlimited video chat without affecting your data (since you can't have unlimited data on AT&T). If you really don't video chat like a maniac, then you don't get a plan and you just dig into your data when video chatting.
anniekate76
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anniekate76,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/17/2012 | 11:43:32 PM
re: AT&T May Charge For iOS 6 FaceTime Over 3G
It shouldn't be about the "bandwidth hogging" issue, as they have already eliminated unlimited 3G bandwidth for their customers. So if we're paying for a certain amount of data per phone, plus being charged if we go over, what justification could they have for also charging extra to use some of our data allotment to video chat? If this is true it sounds like a pure, unjustifiable money grab.
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/17/2012 | 6:30:41 PM
re: AT&T May Charge For iOS 6 FaceTime Over 3G
You can pretty much be sure that the carriers will all charge something extra for this "feature". The Apple crowd can afford it so it's a no-brainer.
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