AT&T Wednesday tried to clarify its position on limiting the iOS 6 FaceTime over Cellular feature to its Mobile Share data plan customers. The carrier called concerns that last week’s move might require subscribers change data plans “wrong” and “another knee jerk reaction” about net neutrality.

The FCC’s net neutrality rules do not regulate the availability to customers of applications that are preloaded on phones. Indeed, the rules do not require that providers make available any preloaded apps,” AT&T said in a blog post. The cell provider said subscribers can download a number of video chat apps that compete with AT&T’s service, a requirement of net neutrality laws…

To be clear, customers will continue to be able to use FaceTime over Wi-Fi irrespective of the data plan they choose,” the carrier stressed. The company explained it was limiting FaceTime over Cellularout of an overriding concern for the impact this expansion may have on our network and the overall customer experience.”

Let’s try to cut through the corporate-speak. AT&T is limiting FaceTime over Cellular to Mobile Share customers because it is worried video chatting is so popular, that it could bring down its entire network — and degrade the user experience so much customers complain.

Aside from the explanations, video chatting with FaceTime over Cellular on an iOS 6 iPhone will be more convenient to iPhone owners than downloading a third-party app and making it work. Hint from AT&T: you might want to move to our Mobile Share plan.

Although a throw-away line, the comment about net neutrality rulesdo not require that providers make available any preloaded apps” could be the most ominous for Apple. Carriers have always been irked when the Cupertino, Calif. company insists on control over what apps are made available on the iPhone, not wanting carriers to clutter the handset’s desktop with dozens of their own apps. However, carriers have always relented, knowing the iPhone attracts customers willing to pay more for data. But AT&T’s statement may signal a change that they want to be in control of what apps are sold to their subscribers.

Puts a whole different face on things, doesn’t it?

  • Al

    This is jus a pure example of greed, they do not benefit from fixed “unlimited” plan customers. AT&T would rather there customers on there shared data plan eating up data..overage fees benefit them. Goes to show that they really don’t have your best interest at hand..

  • Brad Marquardt

    This completely goes against the entire reason apple got into the mobile business to begin with. They wanted to put control of what was on the phone back in the hands of the end user and limit the overwhelming control of the carriers. Unlike Android who sold out hard, Apple has been true to their mission statement since day one. They need to step up and say something fast or their sell out will be more so than that of Android’s.

    • Imahottguy

      idk about that… Remember that the only reason that FaceTime was not allowed over cellular to begin with was AT&T. If Apple really wanted to give control back to the end user, they would have said “sorry charlie” to AT&T and went ahead with enabling the feature. Of course this could damage their relationship with AT&T to the point where they would no longer subsidize the handset, but I digress.

      • Brad Marquardt

        That is true, apple definately could’ve stepped up then and perhaps they should but most like they were trying to keep their (distant) relationship with AT&T healthy. Which does go against why they started making the iPhone. That being, I hope they do step up on this and call shenanigans. The level that google got into bed with Verizon is is appalling and completely disenguous

  • deepdvd

    Just use an alternate solution = Google+ Hangouts. You might actually have to call the person first to tell them to download it though. That might be way too difficult for some.

    • jgr627

      Google + is just one of many options that u can do the same, the problem is that none of them of them will be easier then using built in FaceTime……AT&T r bunch of dicks for this move n it’s a sad sad future were heading into if this is how things are going to be

  • Twyler

    What is Verizon doing? Perhaps a move from big blue to big red?

    • travist6983

      I am curious if there is anyway to keep unlimted data with VZW… my wife has an unlimited plan there can she just add me and we both be grandfathered into it?

    • Verizon will be forcing everyone into the same shared plan. New customer to Verizon, shared data. Adding a new smart phone to your existing account, shared data. Of course they aren’t going around shouting about it. So that’s why there is no anger towards them right now.

  • Andy

    I feel like AT&T just thinks that all of their customers are stupid. They throw around WiFi like they’re doing us a favor. The fact is, it’s not their phone, or their WiFi service. Why are they telling us what we can and can’t use? They are a mobile service provider. For a lot of us, they’re probably not even providing the WiFi, it’s Comcast or something else. We know we can do things over WiFi, AT&T, that’s why we paid for your mobile service -_-

    • I totally agree with this. AT&T tries to promote wifi like they are being so gererous to allow unlimited use on wifi, even though they have nothing to do with the wifi I use at home. I pay someone else for that. But it’s like AT&T wants to take credit for letting me use it.

      • So you never use the wifi at Starbucks, McDonalds, airports and elsewhere that AT&T has put up for you to use?

      • Andy

        No I don’t, actually. For one, I don’t spend all my time at a Starbucks, a McDonalds, an airport, or any other of those places. The other thing is is that when I am at those places, it doesn’t work well. The reason I pay for 3G is to connect to 3G. Not a junky WiFi connection they’ve set up in some coffee shop. When I travel a lot, I want to connect to the mobile network I paid for. When WiFi isn’t working, or I’m somewhere with no WiFi, I’d like my connection to work. The point is that I don’t pay them for apps or phones, I’m paying them for a mobile connection to the internet despite the fact they don’t want to spend money on infrastructure. I don’t care what they say, this is definitely a net neutrality issue.

  • Greg

    How many times is AT&T Mobility going to use the “out of an overriding concern for the impact this expansion may have on our network and overall customer experience” statement?

  • Lrs

    Use my 3G or 3G unrestricted they or apps aren’t they

  • mrdrewstone

    “The FCC’s net neutrality rules do not regulate the availability to customers of applications that are preloaded on phones……”
    I guess according to AT&T this logic makes sense, since the “Phone” application is preloaded on the iPhone as well, and i can rarely get service.
    Apple should take it off the phone when it ships and have people download it from the app store for free, problem solved.


    Jailbreak + 3G Unrestrictor … Problem solved 🙂

    (Of course, people will only need to wait for the jailbreak, but that’s the fun part)

  • chjode

    Allow me to summarize AT&T’s response:

    “Shut up!”

  • Imahottguy

    It is malarky like this that makes me glad that Jailbreaking exists. 3G Unrestricter allows ME, the one who is paying for all of this data, to decide what I will use it for. If AT&T is afraid that their network cannot take the hit, then perhaps they should focus more on building infrastructure than whatever they currently spend that money on. Sorry AT&T, but eff you!

    I’m beginning to think that the real reason that AT&T doesn’t want people using potentially bandwidth heavy applications on the network is that folks might realize that 3GB of data for $30 is not that great of a deal. Years ago, before everything was in 720p and 1080p, 3GB would be enough for anyone. However, in my sort-of-scientific testing, 1 episode of South Park in HD was just over 100MB on Netflix. This was done via the built in Personal Hotspot feature in 5.1.1 and an aTV2. So if all I did with my data was watch South Park on my aTV, at least in theory, I could watch around 1 episode a day. I don’t think we will ever see “unlimited” data plans again, but it seems to me that they are going to need to increase the allotment soon.

  • Gorgonphone

    i am jail broken so this topic bores me..

  • More bullshit. They are indeed limiting customers who are already REQUIRED to purchase a data plan with a smartphone. You’re restricting a service that uses data, it’s the same as charging more for tethering. This is INSANE! How many different times and ways can you charge people for the same damn thing?! It’s data. If someone wants to use their 2GB of data (or whatever) amount to use FaceTime then they should be allowed. I mean, can you imagine Comcast saying people have to pay more for Xbox Live or Netflix or Hulu? Wait…we’re probably closer to thy than I

  • *to that than I realize.

  • travist6983

    Does anyone out there use facetime that much? i mean really i have used it like 5 times since it came out… pretty soon they will charge for Siri use

  • This is not a feature of AT&T’s it’s on the phone already .. They don’t have to support it or they could charge for this on its own… All they have done is put it on one data plan and not the other.. They want to phase out the other plan and if they add features to it know one will change…. Yes I know it sucks

  • marco1993

    Isnt there a tween called 3G unrestrictor Which would solve all this
    And what a bunch of Hippocrates (they won’t allow FaceTime because it may affect the user experience due to over use but they are fine with third party app that does the same thing and they are encouraging people to use the third party app instead of what iPhones already comes with

  • seyss

    Somehow I knew the words “customer experience” would show up in this bullshit, deceiving, corporate message

  • If you read this again “out of an overriding concern for the impact this expansion may have on our network” lmao. Remember back in 2007 as soon as they introduced iPhone 3G their freaking network came down. So in other words they are afraid that if they extent the FaceTime over cellular to all customers, their freaking network could go down again 🙂 Poor AT&T!!!

  • Thomas Cullum

    Clearly it’s time for Apple to flex its massive cash reserves. Sign me up for an Apple 4G LTE account.

  • Can someone please tell me how would this “bring down cellular networks” if we are already paying for only 250MB-2GB of data?! Thank God the FCC didn’t allow the T-Mobile/AT&T merger, it’d be horrible to have an even more powerful company placing this on us with fewer choices on the market.