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AT&T to enable FaceTime over cellular for all tiered data customers

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 
AT&T announced on Wednesday it will enable FaceTime over cellular at no extra cost to any customers with a tiered data plan and compatible iOS device.

The announcement was made on the carrier's website by Mark Collins, senior vice president of voice and data products. The change means that iPhone 4S customers with tiered plans will be able to make FaceTime calls over the AT&T network.

"We have already begun updating our systems and processes and expect to start rolling the update out to customers on an ongoing basis beginning in the next couple of weeks," Collins wrote. "Customers do not need to do anything ??the update will be applied automatically over the next few months."

FaceTime


FaceTime over cellular will not come to older devices such as the iPhone 4 or second-generation iPad, even if they are running iOS 6. But that's because the hardware does not support mobile FaceTime connections ? a decision made by Apple, not AT&T.

Previously, AT&T had restricted FaceTime over cellular to customers who had switched to its Mobile Share plans, as well as those with an LTE device, such as the iPhone 5 or latest iPad, on a tiered plan.

AT&T came under fire for its initial decision, and the company was compelled to defend itself in a statement claiming its plan complied with Federal Communications Commissions that prohibit carriers from blocking services that compete with their own. The carrier argued that its decision was in compliance because AT&T does not offer its own competing preloaded video chat application.

AT&T began quietly activating FaceTime over cellular for more subscribers in November. At the time, some users who had grandfathered unlimited data plans said they too were able to use FaceTime. However, Wednesday's announcement indicated the ability will only extend to customers who have tiered data plans.
post #2 of 49
Wait...so since I've grandfathered in to unlimited data, it doesn't work for me?
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post #3 of 49
We have grandfathered 'unlimited' on my wife's and my phone, 2GB on daughter's, and 550 minutes shared (of which we use maybe 200 minutes between the 3 of us.)
I was recently trying to reduce recurring bills and talked to AT&T.
Turns out all of us are grandfathered, 2GB no longer exists and only 3GB is a reasonable option.

Bottom line is that whether we all go to 3GB or to the shared data plan, ALL options result in a big RAISE in our monthly bill.
Absolutely insane! And Verizon is no better.

Where it up to me, I'd be switching to a 'load-as-you-go' stupid phone and a decked out iPad mini.
post #4 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post

Wait...so since I've grandfathered in to unlimited data, it doesn't work for me?

Apparently... and make sure you keep it because (as I note above) any changes you make will result in higher costs.

Absolute theft on the part of the carriers.

post #5 of 49

Wait, no cellular facetime for iP4 owners?  Did I read that correctly?  I have an iP5, but most everyone else I know have an iP4.

So facetime for the iP4 works fine for those on WiFi, but it doesn't work on a slower cellular connection?  WTF?  Someone explain this to me.

post #6 of 49

TERRIBLE resolution on those cameras… 1wink.gif

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post #7 of 49

I would assume the iPhone 5 is capable of more advanced real-time video transcoding to maintain perceived quality at a lower bitrate.

 

Either way, this announcement doesn't really mean anything in my city's pathetic 4G throughput.

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post #8 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post

Wait...so since I've grandfathered in to unlimited data, it doesn't work for me?

Yes, that would appear to be the case. This, partly, seems to be a strategy to incentivize grandfathered customers like us to move to a tiered plan.

 

I can also see, from a business perspective, the network burdens of unlimited Facetime-over-cellular. 

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post #9 of 49

...maybe it's time for a new AT&T service offering -- unlimited ButtTime...  That seems to be where we're getting it!

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post #10 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

So facetime for the iP4 works fine for those on WiFi, but it doesn't work on a slower cellular connection?  WTF?  Someone explain this to me.

They probably have a 100 million iPhone 4's on their network. They might add it eventually if they determine the usage is low enough viz the load isn't too high, but I wouldn't count on it. I just hope they are also using QoS for FaceTime traffic.

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post #11 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carthusia View Post

I can also see, from a business perspective, the network burdens of unlimited Facetime-over-cellular. 
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't think FaceTime counted toward the data plan, which is why ATT was fighting it ... Or was it that they didn't want their networks clogged up with streaming video?
post #12 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

TERRIBLE resolution on those cameras… 1wink.gif

LOL

Does anyone know what they use to pixelate an image?

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post #13 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac_128 View Post

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't think FaceTime counted toward the data plan ...

It absolutely counts toward your data usage if it's over the cellular network. The only free usage are calls to 611 and any SMS regarding your account.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #14 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carthusia View Post

Yes, that would appear to be the case. This, partly, seems to be a strategy to incentivize grandfathered customers like us to move to a tiered plan.

I can also see, from a business perspective, the network burdens of unlimited Facetime-over-cellular. 

I think it's less to incentivize people to move off of unlimited plans, and more to simply make additional money from tiered customers. All the new plans are limited. Why not give those users every opportunity to incur extra data charges? There is no such opportunity with unlimited data plans.

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post #15 of 49
Stupid AT&T. I cannot wait for TMobile to start working on iPhone.
post #16 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

We have grandfathered 'unlimited' on my wife's and my phone, 2GB on daughter's, and 550 minutes shared (of which we use maybe 200 minutes between the 3 of us.)
I was recently trying to reduce recurring bills and talked to AT&T.
Turns out all of us are grandfathered, 2GB no longer exists and only 3GB is a reasonable option.

Bottom line is that whether we all go to 3GB or to the shared data plan, ALL options result in a big RAISE in our monthly bill.
Absolutely insane! And Verizon is no better.

Where it up to me, I'd be switching to a 'load-as-you-go' stupid phone and a decked out iPad mini.

I'll be testing out T-Mobile's $30 unlimited text/data + 100 minutes plan on an iPhone 4S.  That, with a Google Voice and Talkatone, will be extremely cheap...

post #17 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

It absolutely counts toward your data usage if it's over the cellular network. The only free usage are calls to 611 and any SMS regarding your account.

Then the next question is how much data FaceTime uses typically. It's hardly streaming video, just ok frame rate, barely. But much better than no video.
post #18 of 49

Finally. It was odd that AT&T allowed Skype video chat but not FaceTime.

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post #19 of 49

  The system is already starting to work.  I received a Facetime call on my ATT Iphone 5 when I was walking on the street in NYC about 10 days ago. It was pretty stable. I haven't seen a big jump in my data use from it so it is probably not too bad if you use it occasionally. It sure beats having to be on wifi to receive a call.

post #20 of 49

Its my data

And I'll use as I want to

Use as I want to

Use as I want to

You would use too since you pay for it too....
 

post #21 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by 65C816 View Post

I'll be testing out T-Mobile's $30 unlimited text/data + 100 minutes plan on an iPhone 4S.  That, with a Google Voice and Talkatone, will be extremely cheap...

 

Hate to break it to you but GoogleVoice is going to start charging here very shortly.  So, you may want to rethink that setup.  Just warning ya.

 

 

As for topic, I have had AT&T since first gen iPhone (then 3GS now on my 4GS) and have be "grandfathered" into the unlimited (ha ha) plan.  I will see about the new prepaid iPhones coming up here shortly or another carrier.  I only use texting (text and pics) and data (work emails, personal emails, play 2-3 games that need to check internet info quickly), rarely on the phone, and those calls are under 60 minutes a month mostly.  I don't use FaceTime, but would like it an option at times.  So I will be checking out my options when 5GS is released/announce/etc.  This whole trying to get us oldtimers to go to the higher price plans has gotten me irritated enough to leave them after all these years (including phones before the iPhone).  I for one hate paying 100 bucks a month for something others are paying a fraction of that for.

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post #22 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

Then the next question is how much data FaceTime uses typically. It's hardly streaming video, just ok frame rate, barely. But much better than no video.

From what I can find on the nets (but haven't verified) is that FaceTime is 15fps at 3MB per minute which translates to a data rate of about 410Kbps. Not too much but something one might want to be aware of if they use it a lot.

Note that included two-way communication which is very low. I assume it uses AAC-LD for the audio. To figure out the data I would use both a 32 and 64Kbps for each direction. That leaves 378 and 346Kbps for video, respectively. Divide that by 15 and then by 8 to get the size of image still in Kiobytes which comes out to about 3 KB. Does that seem? Seems awful low to me.

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post #23 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


They probably have a 100 million iPhone 4's on their network. They might add it eventually if they determine the usage is low enough viz the load isn't too high, but I wouldn't count on it. I just hope they are also using QoS for FaceTime traffic.


However, AT&T is saying the issue is with Apple, not AT&T.  While AT&T may not have 100 million iP5 on their network, they're going to still have tens of millions of iP5 anyways.

They are making it sound like its a hardware/software issue and not a cellular issue with the iP4. 

post #24 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


From what I can find on the nets (but haven't verified) is that FaceTime is 15fps at 3MB per minute which translates to a data rate of about 410Kbps. Not too much but something one might want to be aware of if they use it a lot.

Note that included two-way communication which is very low. I assume it uses AAC-LD for the audio. To figure out the data I would use both a 32 and 64Kbps for each direction. That leaves 378 and 346Kbps for video, respectively. Divide that by 15 and then by 8 to get the size of image still in Kiobytes which comes out to about 3 KB. Does that seem? Seems awful low to me.

 

I would love some hard data on what it uses both on wi-fi and 3G (if there is any difference).  Mainly on wi-fi though.  My parents have their iPad on wi-fi but their ISP only allows 3GB per month (it's a wireless modem, rural area) so they are scared of using too much FaceTime and getting big overage charges.  Result...they basically never use it out of fear of big bills.  I'd love to be able to do some rough math and tell them how much they could reasonably FaceTime per month while still allowing for their other internet usage amounts.  

 

Any relevant data is appreciated!

post #25 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


FaceTime over cellular will not come to older devices such as the iPhone 4 or second-generation iPad, even if they are running iOS 6. But that's because the hardware does not support mobile FaceTime connections ? a decision made by Apple, not AT&T.

 

 

Which is funny of them to say, seeing how FaceTime over Cellular can be enabled on BOTH with a free jailbreak app.

Why must companies lie to users like this? Do they think we're just stupid, or do they forget the internet exists?

post #26 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


However, AT&T is saying the issue is with Apple, not AT&T.  While AT&T may not have 100 million iP5 on their network, they're going to still have tens of millions of iP5 anyways.


They are making it sound like its a hardware/software issue and not a cellular issue with the iP4. 

I thought it could be enabled with a carrier profile update but there might be some HW on the ASIC that enables the service to be more streamlined. Even if there were more iPhone 5's on the network than iPhone 4's it's still a cumulative number. When they add up the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and cellular enable iPads the number might be high enough that adding all the iPhone 4's would be too much of a risk. At any rate they would surely know these values an would need to figure out the likelihood and times this service is being utilized to make sure the system can handle this priority data. They might even only figure for certain days that are heavily, like Christmas and Mother's Day, not the average day of the year, but it's a "weakest link" scenario.
Edited by SolipsismX - 1/16/13 at 1:35pm

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post #27 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post

Which is funny of them to say, seeing how FaceTime over Cellular can be enabled on BOTH with a free jailbreak app.
Why must companies lie to users like this? Do they think we're just stupid, or do they forget the internet exists?

You mean like how the original iPhone's camera could support video through a jailbreak app that took photos at about 10fps. A more sensible individual would couldn't more than what is technically capable with a hack.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #28 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

Bottom line is that whether we all go to 3GB or to the shared data plan, ALL options result in a big RAISE in our monthly bill.
Absolutely insane! And Verizon is no better.

Where it up to me, I'd be switching to a 'load-as-you-go' stupid phone and a decked out iPad mini.

 

You might want to see if T-Mobile offers iPhone compatible 3G in your area.

 

I left AT&T and my "unlimited" plan because for the same price as you pay for data-only, alone, T-Mobile gives me: Unlimited data (Throttled after 5GB), Unlimited text and 100 minutes call time. $30/mo total, nothing else.

For $70/mo -- Unlimited data (no throttle), Unlimited Text, Unlimited calls.

I get 5-6 meg down and 2-4 meg up on my iPhone 4. Only thing I otherwise give up, at the present time, is visual voice mail.

Unfortunately, they don't offer iPhone compatible 3G everywhere -- they're adding more often enough and rumor / macrumor has it they'll launch LTE and / or sell iPhone themselves early this year.

post #29 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by wubbus View Post

I would love some hard data on what it uses both on wi-fi and 3G (if there is any difference).  Mainly on wi-fi though.  My parents have their iPad on wi-fi but their ISP only allows 3GB per month (it's a wireless modem, rural area) so they are scared of using too much FaceTime and getting big overage charges.  Result...they basically never use it out of fear of big bills.  I'd love to be able to do some rough math and tell them how much they could reasonably FaceTime per month while still allowing for their other internet usage amounts.  

Any relevant data is appreciated!

My call log shows 15MB per minute for WiFi FaceTime and ~3MB per minute over LTE. You can check how much data a FaceTime call used by going to your calls log.
post #30 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


You mean like how the original iPhone's camera could support video through a jailbreak app that took photos at about 10fps. A more sensible individual would couldn't more than what is technically capable with a hack.

 

No, I mean how it can be enabled to perform exactly the SAME as the 4S. There were several side by side comparisons showing performance was identical on both handsets.

Besides, FaceTime on the iPhone 4 doesn't adjust it's quality based on the strength/speed of the connection, which may be why AT&T doesn't want it using cellular data. It either works or it doesn't, depending on the whether or not it's data connection (cellular or wifi) meets it's minimum requirements. It also doesn't matter if it is connecting over cellular or WiFi, as the program behaves the same regardless of modem used. The only thing the "hack" does is fool the process trigger that asks the phone "am I connected to wifi?" into replying "Yes" whether it is or isn't. Otherwise the function and performance of the app is left unchanged. Huge difference from the example you gave.

post #31 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post


My call log shows 15MB per minute for WiFi FaceTime and ~3MB per minute over LTE. You can check how much data a FaceTime call used by going to your calls log.

Thanks for the tip.

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post #32 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by LarryA View Post


I think it's less to incentivize people to move off of unlimited plans, and more to simply make additional money from tiered customers. All the new plans are limited. Why not give those users every opportunity to incur extra data charges? There is no such opportunity with unlimited data plans.

They want to do both. They want to turn grandfathered unlimited subscribers into tiered subscribers so they can charge for more data. They also would like to get more data usage out of tiered subscribers by offering Facetime and over cellular and other tiered-exclusive goodies to those tiered subscribers.

 

As it currently stands, ATT cannot force anyone out of unlimited; they can only deny features and services with perceived value (like FT) to everyone except the grandfathered subscribers to induce those unlimited subscribers to switch to tiered.

 

I guess you could see it as an incentive or as a punishment. Either way, ATT wants every unlimited subscriber on their network eventually to move to tiered and for tiered subscribers to move to ever more expensive tiered data plans.

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post #33 of 49
NIce job, AT&T. Another nudge to get grandfathered customers off their unlimited data plans.

You guys are a real piece of work.
post #34 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post

Wait...so since I've grandfathered in to unlimited data, it doesn't work for me?

Sure it will. Just jailbreak.

It also works on the iPhone 4, lies about hardware not being capable notwithstanding.
post #35 of 49
This is old news
post #36 of 49
I've been an AT&T customer since before the first iPhone was released, and have been a loyal customer ever since. But, AT&T continues to take a steaming dump on my loyalty.

When I decide to give up my grandfathered AT&T data plan, I'm going to time it with a new iPhone and make a jump to another carrier. If they are not going to appreciate my customer loyalty, I'll no longer be loyal.
post #37 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carthusia View Post

As it currently stands, ATT cannot force anyone out of unlimited

Sure they can. Even if you have a contract for Unlimited (which I don't think anyone does at this point) they could have changed the plan at any time but you'd also no longer be required to pay any ETF if you left. With the contract over and I think all user of Unlimited plans going month-to-month they could change it at any time they wish.

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post #38 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curtis Hannah View Post

This is old news

 

Not really. The last time we saw this headline it was about FaceTime for shared data plans only. This is for tiered plans, a much broader audience.
 

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post #39 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post


Where it up to me, I'd be switching to a 'load-as-you-go' stupid phone and a decked out iPad mini.

I'm thinking of doing the same thing. I barely use 100 minutes of call time, and perhaps 300 MB of data on my iPhone 5 every month. I could transfer my unlimited iPad data plan to the mini.
post #40 of 49
That's odd... I seem to remember FT working just fine over AT&T's cellular network on a certian JB'd iP4... So sorry, AT&T, I call B/S!!
FT has worked on AT&T's precious cellular network from the day the iP4 was released... Or, so I've heard...
;-P
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