AT&T has announced its plans for how it will handle FaceTime over Cellular access after months of complaints from customers after it initially announced that the feature would be limited solely to the carrier’s shared data plans and effectively excluded those customers still on their older unlimited smartphone data plans. The outcry was such that the carrier faced litigation over the initial limitations imposed and today the carrier elaborated further on how it will handle the feature going forward.
First, FaceTime over Cellular will be made available over 3G service and will be allowed within the scope of the network, though the actual service will have access limited to those with the iPhone 5 and iPad models with LTE radios, as AT&T will require devices to feature LTE radios before FaceTime access is granted.
AT&T explained its decision boiled down to the number of iOS devices on its network as the reason for the unconventional handling of the new service, owing to its HSPA+ and LTE network being unable to handle the sheer volume of FaceTime calls without some sort of access controls in place.
However, the new FaceTime access policy going forward still does not address the inherent faults of AT&T’s network, as even with these arbitrary limitations being put in place, those that would like to use FaceTime over Cellular may not be able to either because LTE isn’t available in their area yet and 3G access isn’t as robust, or because their iOS devices don’t support LTE, excluding a sizable majority of potential users that have not upgraded devices.
With this policy put in place, AT&T is essentially forcing customers to switch plans and upgrade perfectly compatible devices in order to even use FaceTime over Cellular service, making things a lot more expensive for interested customers. Once again, AT&T completely misses the mark on its handling of FaceTime over Cellular and its policies will do nothing more than marginalize the service even further than it already is.