AT&T has announced plans to modify existing restrictions in place for select iPhone users wishing to use FaceTime video chat over the cellular network. Apple first introduced the feature in iOS 6 but AT&T only allowed it for customers that signed up for a new shared data plan. Before the new software, both users were required to be connected to a Wi-Fi network to use FaceTime.
That decision didn’t sit well with a lot of AT&T customers and public interest groups. Some groups said AT&T was essentially blocking FaceTime and that act violated Internet neutrality laws.
Over the course of the next two months, the wireless provider will be making changes to their network that will allow customers with tiered data plans to use the feature over cellular instead of just those with shared plans.
AT&T claims they initially limited the service to shared data plan users because they wanted to gauge the performance impact that FaceTime would have on their network. Unfortunately, those who are grandfathered in to an unlimited data plan still won’t be able to use it over cellular.
It’s a step in the right direction although some aren’t buying AT&T’s excuse. Matt Wood, policy director of Free Press released a statement saying AT&T simply can’t block FaceTime based on claims of network congestion. He said there was nothing even remotely reasonable about that approach.
AT&T executive James W. Cicconi said the company will continue to monitor FaceTime data usage. The plan is to eventually make the feature available to customers with other data plans.