Yesterday AT&T Mobility CEO Randall Stephenson claimed that it was too early to talk about possible fees for added FaceTime over 3G functionality after hearing growing discontent amongst the vocal group of the internet’s finest techies after 9to5 Mac published a screenshot which seemed to indicate AT&T was planning on charging for FaceTime over 3G — a feature that will debut on iOS 6 in the fall. We ranted (as did many of your via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social networks).
Today, when questioned by Gotta Be Mobile (still awaiting our response), that echoes Stephenson’s response above — it’s still too early to talk about FaceTime over 3G pricing. Specifically, it’s “premature”.
If AT&T and Verizon both decide to begin charging for FaceTime over 3G, and essentially triple-dipping on data costs (you already pay for a data plan and then extra for tethering on top of that), it’ll make more consumer friendly carriers such as Sprint and T-Mobile look like much better options. It’s also worth pointing out that no other carrier globally has voiced interest (at least not publicly) in requiring a special “FaceTime 3G” package.
That said, if AT&T and/or Verizon begin selectively limiting applications in such a fashion, we’d certainly hope the FCC were to wake up and start putting our tax dollars to work. Letting apps such as Skype through unrestricted (and even possibly launching their own video chat service to compete) while also requiring additional fees for Apple’s proprietary FaceTime feature/service is a gross abuse of their duopoly power.
We’ve reached out to both Sprint and T-Mobile on the matter (as well as rummaging through some press contacts with regional carriers) and will update the article with any new information as we get it.
Stay tuned. We’re certain there will be more to be said on this matter in the coming weeks as the iOS 6 launch nears.
Update: Sprint has finally responded to our inquiry and stated that (as you’ve probably read by now), the company will not discriminate video chat services by requiring special data plans or service add-ons to use said feature. In short: FaceTime will be free on Sprint.