AT&T announced in a press release that it is opening up FaceTime over Cellular for iOS owners who subscribe to a tiered data plan and connect to the company’s 4G LTE network. Previously, FaceTime over Cellular was only enabled for customers on AT&T’s new Mobile Share plans, which debuted earlier this year. Grandfathered customers who still have an unlimited data plan are not eligible for cellular FaceTime video calling and must use the service over WiFi only.
AT&T doesn’t give a reason for this change in its press release. The carrier only states the change and confirms that it has more iPhone customers than any other US carrier. AT&T’s Jim Cicconi explained the company’s position on AT&Ts blog and said the carrier was concerned about the impact of so many potential FaceTime users on its network. AT&T wanted to be cautious with its FaceTime rollout because it has more iPhones than any other carrier in the US.
What Cicconi doesn’t mention is the pressure the company faced from consumers and public interest groups like Public Knowledge and Free Press. Both groups claimed the restriction limiting FaceTime to Mobile Share customers violated FCC rules and said they would use all legal remedies at their disposal to force AT&T to change this restrictive FaceTime policy.