AT&T announced today that they have expanded the ability to use FaceTime over Cellular to any iOS 6 user on a tiered data plan while connected via LTE. While the carrier masks this as a victory for their users, the truth of the matter is that users of unlimited plans, and users without LTE coverage, are still left holding AT&T’s giant bag of fail.
In reality, the move isn’t as “heroic” as it seems. While users of their tiered (capped) data plans will now be able to use FaceTime over Cellular if they happen to have LTE coverage, all users stuck on 3G networks (and that’s a lot, as AT&T’s LTE coverage is rather pathetic), and anyone who still has an unlimited data plan are pretty much screwed.
DALLAS, Nov. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ – AT&T* today announced it will enable FaceTime over Cellular at no extra charge for iOS 6 customers with an LTE device on any tiered data plan. AT&T will also continue to offer FaceTime over Cellular to customers with any AT&T Mobile Share plan, as well as FaceTime over Wi-Fi, which has always been available for all customers. AT&T expects to roll out this functionality to customers over the next eight to ten weeks.
Previously, AT&T restricted FaceTime over Cellular strictly to users of their new (and typically more expensive) Mobile Share Plans. What’s more, the move wasn’t spawned by any change of heart on AT&T’s part – Public Knowledge and FreePress, both of which criticized AT&T’s original FaceTime over Cellular policy, point out that the change has likely only been made to avoid an FCC investigation.
Considering that their original policy seemingly violated the FCC’s Open Internet rules, and was being reviewed by the FCC (despite AT&T openly lying and claiming that this wasn’t the case, and that they could get away with it), this seems to be the most likely explanation.
AT&T states that the “expanded” functionality will be rolled out over the next 8-10 weeks, rather than instantly, as it should be. And even that ignores the fact that it was completely inappropriate to restrict FaceTime over Cellular in the first place, despite their claim that they are only “protecting” their apparently fragile and insufficient network.
Make no mistake about it: AT&T isn’t doing this to benefit their customers. They’re not doing it because it’s the right thing to do – they’re doing it because they have to. And they’re doing as little as possible to make it right to the many customers who still won’t be able to use FaceTime over Cellular on AT&T’s network.
Once again, AT&T, you have failed. You have reamed your customers with yet another greedy, inappropriate, and anti-consumer move aimed at bullying your users onto Mobile Share Plans. Shame on you. Fail, Fail, Fail.
Our open call to arms against AT&T still stands. It’s high time consumers voted with their wallets, and rebelled against AT&T’s anti-consumer dickery by kicking them in the only place they care about: Their balance sheets.