Carriers Quiet on Prospects for FaceTime Over Cellular Networks with iOS 6
As part of its iOS 6 preview at last week's Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple announced that it would officially be bringing its FaceTime video calling feature to cellular networks, significantly expanding the usability of the feature for users on the go.
FaceTime now works over cellular networks as well as Wi-Fi, so you can make and receive FaceTime calls wherever you happen to be. You can even make and receive FaceTime calls on your iPad using your phone number. That means you can use FaceTime wherever you are, on any device. And never miss another wink, smile, air kiss, or eye roll.
But as with other carrier-dependent features like tethering and personal hotspot, FaceTime could still find itself subject to limitations imposed by the carriers.
MarketWatch takes a look at the impact of FaceTime over cellular, noting that it could soak up significant amounts of cellular bandwidth just as carriers are moving to refocus their service plans to emphasize data usage over calling minutes. But so far the carriers are silent on how and even whether they will support FaceTime on their networks.
The carriers that offer the iPhone wouldn't comment on their plans for offering FaceTime on their networks, but an AT&T spokesman said the company is "working closely with Apple on features disclosed for iOS 6, and we'll share more information with our customers as we get closer to launch."
The report notes that with customers being shifted to tiered data plans on most carriers, carrier concerns over FaceTime usage may be lessened, but it still remains to be seen just how they will handle the new functionality and how it will impact their networks.
Apple's small-print footnotes on FaceTime in iOS 6 mention only that "carrier data charges may apply", making no disclaimer that the feature could be not supported at all by certain carriers. And with FaceTime over cellular networks working under the iOS 6 beta, it seems likely that carriers will support the feature and simply rely on customers' data caps to keep usage in check or increase revenue through higher-cost plans.