During its WWDC keynote yesterday, Apple announced that the latest version of their mobile operating system, iOS 6, would finally include the ability to make FaceTime calls over cellular networks.

Considering that this feature has been restricted to Wi-Fi connections since it was introduced in 2010, this was a pretty big deal. But it could end up causing major problems for capped data users…

As smartphones have become more data-intensive over the the years, carriers have become increasingly adamant about knocking their customers off of unlimited data plans, in favor of capped solutions.

And, as you might have guessed, these capped data plans are not going to play so nicely with FaceTime over cellular. SmartMoney explains:

“But those with the base data plans should use the technology sparingly, analyst Jeff Kagan says. ” If you use FaceTime on the wireless network, you better keep a close eye on your data plan,” he says.

In fact, users with a 250 megabyte data plan could max out their data plan in just 90 minutes using FaceTime, says Todd Day, senior industry analyst in the mobile and wireless division at Frost and Sullivan. Each minute of FaceTime chat can use as much as 2.7 mb of data, he says.”

So what’s the big deal, Skype and other apps have been making video calls over cellular networks for a while now. The problem is, FaceTime will be an option built directly into iOS 6. And even with a popup warning, users might not be aware of the consequences of over-using it.

It’ll be interesting to see how both carriers and customers play this, as the latter has been known to organize class-action lawsuits against Apple at the drop of a hat.

  • Dan

    I’ve been using facetime over 3G for a while, if you’re not careless with it, it’s easy to respect your limit (mine is 500 megs)

  • jose castro

    damn ATT

  • EricArmstrongg

    Can anyone explain why Apple isn’t their own cell provider?

    • i think they would go broke if they did that. think about all the people who get the phone at a discount rate when signing a 2year agreement and then never pay their phone bill and get there service cut off but they still get to keep the phone. but it would be nice to see that from apple.

      • No one would ever do this, ever. Your credit rating would PLUMMET, and YOU are the one who signed the contract and gave them your credit card number.

    • Tou Kale

      Tim Cook actually answered that question at D10. There is no one cell phone company that covers the world. If they buy tmobile, how does that help them outside the US? Plus they get 60% of their revenue outside the US, China will be their biggest market growth for the next 5-7 years.

      • EricArmstrongg

        They can’t buy or build to expand their coverage outside the US? They have, what, 100b in the bank? I just want them to cover me because ATT doesn’t do the greatest job… haha

  • People wanted it so they got it!!! Sucks to have a data cap, I’m grandfathered in !!!!

    • jose castro

      amen but still don’t like how AT&T cuts data in half after 3gb

      • i did notice that the only time my speed is slow (after 3Gigs) is when im using safari browser but when i use an app that has the net running through it like pandora or skyfire or yutube my net speed is not that slow.

      • jose castro

        ya Ive noticed that too. i am 10 gb into it and really that all that got slowed down lol

      • Even if your grandfathered in verizon just already is making anyone who upgrades to. New phone go on the shared data plan Nd att is going to do the same thing.. Hope you jave sprint

      • jose castro

        i see a lawsuit lol

    • that is for now..but..when you switch to the LTE plans..i BET…you won’t be able to Keep your unlimited Data. Just like Verizon did to it’s customers so shall it be done to us..BUT..i hope they DON’T do us Wrong…cause i wanna keep my Unlimited…BUT….if i have to give that up just to get LTE…pfft..i’ll stick with HASPA until Sprint comes to Alaska.

  • apple and wireless carriers should work more closely to come to a solution for the facetime, it comes in handy at times.

  • Sorry to say this but BOTH carriers .. Erm last time I checked the iPhone was on more than two carrier and in more than one country ….. I know that this site is US based but there are readers from around the world and this post should cover all carriers ..well the ones that let you use face time on 3G ..

    • The “BOTH” is for “BOTH carriers AND customers”
      : )

      • Poorly worded post then.. It reads BOTH ways…

  • Dylan_Lewis

    I have the beta build of ios 6 on my iphone 4 and it’s not letting me make facetime calls over 3g(AT&T) Is this another 4s exclusive?

    • jose castro


      • Joey_Mousepad

        actually yes it is

    • Yep

    • (When it’s ready….) There’s a jailbreak tweak for that!

  • Cody Cutrer

    Ok, but who in their right mind uses 90 minutes of facetime? I have 3gvenice on all of my family and my iDevices (12 in all). Even though we *can* facetime anytime we want, we only mostly do on special occasions (birthdays, mothers/fathers day/etc.). And even then we’re almost always on WiFi. I’m glad Apple is finally forcing this on the carriers cause I always hated having to think if I could use FaceTime or not, but in reality it’s a seldom used feature. Maybe if the front cameras didn’t suck so bad….

  • I’m very happy with my provider (t-mobile) I get 2000 minutes to landlines and other mobile providers unlimited texts and the best part is, I get unlimited yes true unlimited Internet. Last month I used 16Gb on my iPhone and the first month I got this iPhone 4 I used about 25Gb plus just downloading apps and games to see if they was better then the android. I have to say I’m converted, I’m now a hardened iPhone user and iPad user, android can kiss my @ss lol

    • gpscar

      T-Mobile throttles after 250 mb lol

    • Imahottguy

      How does one use 16GB of data on an iPhone in one month? Are you torrenting or what? Even when I had unlimited 3G on my iPad, I hardly ever went over 2GB, and I was watching plenty of Netflix and YouTube videos while on 3G.

      • 2008crna

        You tether your phone…..alot. I hit 12-16 GB when I had unlimited with AT&T until those bastards caught me!

  • That’s why you go to Sprint they have unlimited data

  • Adam Coughran

    still got the unlimited grandfathered Att plan baby.. i only got one warning about throttling once… when i used 9 GB lol

  • I don’t think the data for this is going to be as big of a deal as most people think. With the compression technologies that are used for this type of chat a phone plan with 3Gb should be more than sufficient for a decent amount of video chat plus whatever else you do. In a normal month I never reach 1Gb because I use Wi-Fi when I can(it’s faster anyway).