When we first saw the message asking us to contact AT&T before we could enable FaceTime over Cellular, we knew something was up. Now the cat has been let out of the bag.

As it turns out, AT&T won’t be charging for FaceTime over Cellular as if it were a separate feature, but it will require you to switch to their new shared data plan.

What do you think about this?

It is technically possible to switch to a shared data plan without it costing you much more, but there are certainly some items you’d need to consider before making the switch.

We explained shared data plans in a previous post, but basically it boils down to this:

  • You receive a preset pool of data for a flat fee.
  • The higher the amount of data you select, the lower the cost of each smart phone you add to your pool.
  • Tablets and such will cost less than adding a smart phone to the pool.

For instance, if I selected to have 1GB of data for two smartphones, it would cost $130. $40 + $45 + $45 = $130.

If I selected 6GB for two smart phones, it would cost $160. $90 + $35 + $35 = $160.

I could add a tablet to my plan for an extra $10, and share the 6GB of data with the other two smart phones.

When I do the math, that’s really not all that worse than what I pay now, and in some cases it may be even cheaper.

I pay around $153 per month for two iPhones. One has the grandfathered data pro with 4GB, and the other has 2GB. That’s a total of 6GB between the two for $153, which is $7 less than the shared data.

The ability to use a tablet for an extra $10 is a big plus for me, as I don’t tend to use a lot of data on my smartphones, and 5GB of data for a tablet is $50 by itself (on Verizon).

If I managed things right, I could save a lot more money per month than a I do now, but of course that’s just my individual situation. Your mileage may vary.

What do you think? Should AT&T force customers to switch to a different plan, when it’s all the same data, and you’re capped at a certain amount anyway? I think it’s kind of foolish that they can tell you how to use the data that you’re already paying for, but again, we’ve been down this long windy road before.

Anywhere these guys can figure out how to nickel and dime you, you best believe they will. I’ll go ahead and post Mr. Stephenson’s smug mug just to fire you up all the more…

Fire away.

  • m.k

    just this guys face alone makes me hate this idea. i work for bell canada, its about 120$ for 2 iphones a month and they can share up to 12gb (6+6) max. This is the way it should stay. U.S + Canada !
    North Americans already have it bad enough with the prices and rates we pay.
    facetime is a phone feature and should not be milked from consumers as a feature that the service provider is giving.

    Give us a break.. really though, cut it out !

  • Marty Cunnane

    AT&T sucks

    • I have AT&T and completely agree. If it weren’t for iMessages, I couldn’t send texts or mms.

    • obviously you have never been a Sprint customer.

  • I’ll tell you how I feel, same as yesterday, LOAD OF CRAP! Again, I’m an individual, with one device. I’m being penalized because I only have ONE device is what this boils down to. I mean, this is absolute insanity. Who the hell cares if I have a shared plan?! AT&T does! I’m paying $25 for 2GB of data…so I’d have to add another device, pay $40 for 1GB plus another $90 to have both devices connected OR $40 plus $50 if it’s a smartphone and tab? How am I making out in that deal by taking my bill up to $170 versus $100 right now?! THAT’S CRAZY! More for less? No thanks AT&T.

  • crazy_moo

    3G unrestrictor for the win 🙂

    • Shadowlink


    • Randall Stephenson disliked your comment.

  • From a business standpoint it makes sense, but from a consumer standpoint it’s super irratating. Good thing this consumer is switching to Verizon anyway.

    • You will be forced into the same plan on Verizon

  • chjode

    I’ll continue to Jailbreak and install My3G to use the 3G/4G data (that I already pay for) in the manner of my choosing.

  • I really don’t understand the point in getting a shareded data plan for a feature that Apple made themselves. Especially for those who have no point of getting one if they only have an iPhone. it’s completely ridiculous and expensive. Moves like this is what helps other companies such as Sprint and Verizon acquire more customers. For the simple fact that Verizon has a better LTE coverage and free FaceTime over cellular gives them an advantage.

  • FaceTime wont (i have a 3GS, but upgrading to the 6th gen next month or so) be important enough for me to use it over cellular anyway.

  • This is crazy we all need to boycott stuff like this, that companies are reaching to far into our pocket and lives! Instead of capping us they should be held accountable for how many people they can have on the network.

    • JamesR624

      But we won’t. Boycotts don’t work in american anymore. Too many lazy idiots. Intelligence and self-control are a minority now. How can people boycott their horrible carriers when they NEED to text their friends what they’re eating for supper?

      • Manuel Molina

        To true. I’m from NYC and see how lazy people are. As long as they have money to pay for something, they won’t complain, fight for what they believe in, or ask why

  • Come join me in my new Consumer Union Revolution! We need a voice for the people the corporation have too much power.

  • FaceTime uses a lot of data and AT&T wants to capitalize on this.

    • No it doesn’t use much data at all champ.

      • Dan

        Well it uses about 3 megs a minute from what I’ve read, but who FaceTime’s for long periods anyways.

      • Dan

        I swear some stupid people just thumb down for the fun of it

      • molsboywonder

        So an hour long Factetime conversation would involve around 180MB of data. 1) That really isn’t breaking the bank 2) I will use my 3G minutes how ever the fuck I want to. I pay for them. GTFOOHWTBS!

      • Dan

        indeed, I use 3G unrestrictor and it works great

      • So where are you going to be that you need to do an hour long Facetime conversation and not be near wifi?

      • crazy_moo

        car porn?

  • Like said below its a feature that came built in not extra. I believe it should count as just data. I used it on iOS 6 Beta 1&2 and a 5 minutes call only used up like maybe 50MB of data. I think they add it to the shared plan because the cheapest is about maybe 10GB. And also who actually uses FaceTime that much anyway?

  • US carriers suck. In my home country, you can use 3G, 4G unlimited for a very cheap price and they encourage you to use 3G, 4G (not throttling like in the US)

    • JamesR624

      Where is this magical place that you live? (no sarcasm. This really sounds like a great place!)

    • Kok Hean


    • In my country you get 7GBs a months for 14 bucks at 42mbps 3g speeds (if your phone can handle it). And I thought america was cheap.

  • As an individual with only an iPhone, I have absolutely no need for a shared data plan. AT&T requiring me to switch to one just to use a single feature shows no thought or regard for that fact. Sprint’s simple, unlimited everything plan is looking better everyday…

    • JamesR624

      I wish there was a way we could push to give them more coverage. The only reason I’m with verizon is that they have coverage in my area (albeit very little) and the iPhone is the only phone Verizon doesn’t fuck up with bloatware and restrictions.

    • Exactly the point I was making. My iPad is wifi only… I have no need for a shared plan!

      • You also get free mobile hot spot with the shared data plan so you can use your wifi iPad over 3G (or 4G if you believe what your little AT&T icon says).

  • I really think the data plans are confusing. The way I read it is that for 2 smarts phones on 4 gb would be 110. 70 for the first device, data and minutes and then 40 for a additional smart phone. I hope it’s not going to be the 70 + 40 + 40 situation. That wouldn’t make any sense for anyone to switch to them.

    • J M

      Sorry that’s exactly what it is. The top row is to select your data usage amount. Then add in the amount below for each smartphone. So it would be $150 for that setup.

  • 4p0c4lyps3

    Jailbreak. Facebreak. End of story.

  • Manuel Molina

    If your data is grandfather in, why give that up to use a feature that uses the same data; unlimited or shared? The data is no different if its from a share or umlimited plan, and this is an Apple feature, not AT&T. Think how much data FaceTime will eat up in terms of MB’s and GB’s if you use it a lot? You’ll have to get 4GB plan, and in my family plan, we don’t text nor pass 500 minutes. So why must I kill my unlimited data to use Apple’s feature? What about people with only one line and still grandfathered in?

  • >Why I’m switching to Verizon

  • For $25 (converted), I get 250 messages, 400 minutes, unlimited data (speed decrease after 1 GB), free tethering, facetime, everything and everything.
    Carriers have way too much power overseas.

    • Kok Hean

      I was thrilled until I saw the “speed decrease after 1 GB” part. That’s still throttling.

      • Yeah, thats a bit of a turn-off. But for $25, compared to what other carriers here offer, it is a pretty good deal. After 7 months, I can say that 1GB is plenty for daily browsing, at least for me. Considering the speeds are as high as 10Mbps, its a breeze. Tho, I have to restrain from watching YouTube videos.
        There are a couple nice options. My favorite is “Internet Day”, for under $2, you get 24 hour internet access with full speed and up to 20GB.
        If you activate that option every day till the end of the month, you’ll spend $50 extra. That means for $75 (including taxes), you can have 20GB of data, 250 messages and 400 minutes. Compare that to Verizon, for example, which offers 20GB of shared data, and unlimited text and talk, for more than twice as much. Plus, every extra GB is $15!!! O_O
        Carriers have way to much power and are ripping you off. :/

  • macboy74

    Not with them so i don’t care. I’m with Verizon and their no better. I love the people that say screw them I’m leaving and going to Verizon. Lol it’s the same on this side of the tracks people. I’m sure we will get the same. When AT&T does something Verizon follows suit.

  • One more reason why I will NEVER switch to AT&T. The iPhone has made them tons of money and all they can do is find ways to squeeze even more from loyal customers. What don’t they require this from users of Skype or any other app that does video calls? Why only target users of FaceTime? It’s almost as if AT&T wants its customers to leave either AT&T or the iPhone. Hmmmm….

  • I live in austria and I pay 10€ for 3GB, that’s awesome 🙂

  • I think the idea of making the FaceTime over cellular for mobile share plans only is a tactic that AT&T is hoping will work into getting those on unlimited data plans into going to the mobile share plans.

    But if you are jailbroken, You have 3G Unrestrictor to help you

    • I am grandfathered in to the unlimited… but really, how great is the unlimited if they throttle you after 3gb? Since the 3GS came out, I have only went over 2gb one time. I am almost always surrounded by wifi, so the majority of my data never goes out over 3G… Pandora while driving, email and Facebook while out and about.

      I’ve used Facetime maybe 3 times since it was released.

      • But even if that is the case, you are most likely still paying less than what is being offered with the mobile share plans, if I remember the pricing of unlimited data correctly.

      • yes, for one person, but we have 3 phones on our plan… 2 iPhones and a cheap Android phone (without data) for our 12 year old. Our bill on the share comes out almost even for 4gb and was $10 more for 6gb with data on all 3.

      • Ohh ok. But if you use more data it shouldnt be a problem 😉

  • It seems rather expensive compared to our price plans here in the UK.. yikes

  • ExRoot

    3G restrictor here too.

  • ExRoot

    What I don’t understand are those who keep saying that’s why I switching to Verizon. Are they any better. Do you not think they will do the same thing. These companies follow each other. When they see AT&T is squeezing they will squeeze eventually too. I have no live for AT&T at all. They all suck. There are benefits to using AT&T over Verizon. 1 big one is rollover minutes. That is invaluble! They have given many of us 1000 rollover minutes a year. This way I never ever worry about going over. I always have about 700 minutes in reserve. While my friends are checking to see how close they are on Verizon.
    Let all be realistic. The grass is not always greener for long. Jail break get 3G restrictor and don’t give them a second though.

    • ExRoot

      Excuse my typos in my previous post. disq is a nightmare on this site when using an iPhone. Won’t let you correct.

  • Paul Eakins

    That’s why I like Tango. Free cross platform app that lets me make FaceTime calls over 3G. It tells me which of my contacts already use it even my android friends. But for real, it’s a feature a I rarely use.

  • YujinNY

    I say the FCC should get involve that is data discrimination….

  • dont care AT ALL, dont really use FaceTime, and am in a family plan that will be cheaper once we switch to shared data anyhow

    • Finally, someone I agree with on here 🙂

      Family plan with 3 smart phones, going to the shared data would save me some money. We don’t use Facetime, so that’s not an issue. The only thing I am on the fence on is losing my unlimited data.

  • crazy_moo

    Also who says we have to update, I’m quite happy with 5.1.1 all of my apps work very well for what I do, sometimes I dont even feel the need to update them, yes I know that is blasphemy, lmao but seriously we dont always have to update them. What I do see happening is that the protocol will be changed in the future and that will force people to have to change.

  • MadAndronicus

    “your thoughts on AT&T requiring shared data for FaceTime over Cellular?”
    Fuck you, AT&T.

    • gee, I didn’t know that Facetime was that important to people.

      • It’s not. It’s what AT&T requiring us to do that pisses people off.

      • I agree that it’s a fucked up thing for AT&T to do… but again, it’s only Facetime over 3G. I find it hard to believe that many people use Facetime that much and that they feel they NEED it on 3G.

        AT&T is not forcing you to use Facetime… you aren’t being forced to change your plan. They are saying that if you want some new features, then you gotta switch. AT&T is not the only one doing this. Verizon will be forcing everyone into shared data now as well. You buy a new smart phone at Verizon, they are going to push you into shared data. So why all of the hatred on AT&T?

      • MadAndronicus

        Constantly getting screwed by AT&T is the bigger issue here.

  • DomPerignon1

    As several other shave said, get 3G Unrestrictor and problem solved. Now, if you don’t have jailbroken your iPhone switch to Sprint.

    • I’d rather have my balls chewed off by a badger than go back to Sprint.

  • Jeffery Pierre

    Sprint I’m coming home


  • Not for nothing, I’ve made it this long without the need for FaceTime over Cellular, in fact even on WiFi, I barely use it. Worse case I’ll use Skype anyway. Screw going to the shared plans. I have Unlimited Data, 450 Anytime, 5000 night and weekends, unlimited mobile to mobile(Any cell phone), and unlimited text. For like 100 bucks.

  • I hate AT&T, i have it and the only reason i do is because it has the best coverage all over the country, more than Verizon, and sprint. AT&T needs to grow tower wise as more and more smart phones come into the world so they can bring back truly unlimited data. I would be ok with a few more towers anyways for better 3G and 4G LTE. If they want more money they should make there customers happy and be a good enough company to have the customers tell other people to go to them, sprint should either run AT&T or get enough cell towers to keep up with AT&T.

  • If I can keep tethering than I would jump to get Facetime over 3G. But this is stupid and AT&T will learn quickly when they loose millions of customers to other carriers because of it.

  • It is extremely unfair to the user, us must be who pay our wireless phone bill, those who control the use of our data. There is no need to add an extra charge to the use of Facetime, by then if the androids are long time using app as Tango video call, skype and others also use for video calls, did any high that… why with facetime…

  • Another reason I thank the stars daily I am with Sprint! I will never go back to the Death Star!

  • Kayneeezy

    Their CEO is a bastard.. The only reason I am still on AT&T is because I get to upgrade my Phone yearly instead of the standard 2 years and I haven been grandfathered into the unlimited data plan.. If verizon gave me the same deal I would Jump ship.. Sprints service sucks so I’ll never do sprint..

  • ap3604

    I can see things from both sides of the spectrum.

    I think AT&T is being pretty brave with their apparent disregard of the FCC’s net neutrality rules. It can be a real dangerous and slippery slope to go down. If AT&T gets away with this ‘FaceTime requiring a different plan’ nonsense then what is stopping them from doing the same thing to iMessage in the future?

    Apparently a Digital Advocacy group called Public Knowledge is accusing AT&T of violating the FCC’s net neutrality rules regarding FaceTime over 3G requirements so we will see where that goes.


    Most of society has come to accept that we pay more for features our phones are capable of. If we are up in arms over being told we need a different plan to use FaceTime over 3G then why aren’t we getting pissed at the same level of intensity over the fact that we need a different plan to be able to tether?

    Or even more basic… why aren’t we up in arms that we need a ‘different plan’ to be able to text message?

    As a consumer I don’t want AT&T artificially restricting anything, but as an objective commenter I can’t help but feel that AT&T will get away with this the same way they did with tethering.

    • Att can’t mess with iMessage, because that is apple’s and it doesn’t even go through their servers…

  • deepdvd

    From what I’ve seen, The current Shared Data plans only help those people who use a lot of talk/text.They don’t help those that don’t make phone calls or use standard texting very much. Verizon and AT&T know that people are moving toward data (even though voice and text are just data too) and can’t wait til all these people have family members that push them over the limit where they pay more. It’s all about the money. I love how they say they are giving consumers more options.when in reality, they are taking options away. Can anyone believe how much people are paying to have a smartphone these days? Shared Data plans would be good if it didn’t cost MORE to add a phone. Why would it go up from $10 per additional phone up to 40-50? It certainly doesn’t cost them that much more. We should be able to just pay for the data we use no matter how that data is used. The only consumers that it makes sense for AT&T to limit Facetime for… is to unlimited, unthrottled users. Facetime would be useless if you’re being throttled. Anyone on a tiered plan (paying for X amount of data) should be able to use that data any way they want. /rant [sigh]