Yesterday, reports began surfacing that AT&T may be planning to charge customers extra to use Apple’s FaceTime video chat feature over their cellular network – something which Apple announced at WWDC. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has now seemingly confirmed those rumors.
TechCrunch reports that Stephenson was directly asked whether AT&T planned to restrict or charge for FaceTime over their cellular data networks, and responded as follows (emphasis is my own):
“I’ve heard the same rumor,” he said, insisting that for now, AT&T is focused on working with Apple to get the technology stabilized, so “it’s too early to talk about pricing.“
Wrong answer, Mr. Stephenson. The correct answer would have been “If you’re already paying for data, then you’ll be able to use that data to make FaceTime video calls.” Stating that “it’s too early to talk about pricing” is about as close to a confirmation you’ll ever get from a company ahead of an actual announcement.
The fact that Stephenson mentioned pricing directly in his response is both unsettling and disappointing – yet unfortunately, it is not surprising. AT&T loves to charge their customers for things they should already be entitled to, such as robbing their customers of an additional monthly fee to enable tethering on their device, as well as requiring them to be signed up for their largest and most expensive data package.
It sickens me. AT&T’s smartphone customers are already paying for data. They have purchased a monthly allowance for a price. It’s simply not appropriate for AT&T to tell customers how they can use data they have already purchased.
Should we really have expected more from a company who’s CEO “loses sleep” over Apple’s iMessage service, and who publicly admitted that unlimited data was a mistake (after repeatedly screwing their “valued” customers who already hold unlimited data plans)?
Meanwhile, it doesn’t appear that either Sprint or Verizon will be charging for the feature. Verizon, here I come!