May 21, 2013
AT&T To Allow Video Chat On All Devices And All Plans
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
AT&T has come under fire in the past for blocking video chatting services and strong arming customers into abandoning their unlimited packages to use them. When iOS 6 was released, for instance, Apple surprised the carriers by providing FaceTime chat over 4G and LTE networks. Previously, FaceTime was only available over Wi-Fi. AT&T said they´d only allow FaceTime over 4G if their customers switched to a new, shared plan. After being faced with Net Neutrality complaints, AT&T finally changed their decision and began opening up FaceTime to all customers.
When Google release their Hangouts video chat app last week, AT&T looked ready to block service to unlimited plans as well. In a statement to TechCrunch, AT&T said they´re rolling out this functionality in June.
“For video chat apps that come pre-loaded on devices, we currently give all OS and device makers the ability for those apps to work over cellular for our customers who are on Mobile Share or Tiered plans.”
“Throughout the second half of this year, we plan to enable pre-loaded video chat apps over cellular for all our customers, regardless of data plan or device; that work is expected to be complete by yearend.”
When Google´s Hangouts was first released, AT&T claimed pre-loaded chatting apps (such as FaceTime) required cooperation from the phone maker to work on their network. This new statement claims that any video chatting app, even third-party apps downloaded from the Internet, will be able to work on AT&T´s network regardless of the customer´s plan.
It had been previously understood that AT&T´s reason for hesitation in allowing video chat over their network was the amount of bandwidth needed to provide this service. Yet when Apple announced FaceTime over 4G last summer, Verizon and Sprint said they´d allow this change without forcing their customers to change plans.
As they were facing Net Neutrality threats, AT&T defended their position, claiming they weren´t withholding service because the FaceTime app came preloaded on the phone. In other words, they had no problem offering the service, just so long as customers jumped through their hoops.
Bob Quinn, a spokesperson for AT&T, penned a blog wherein he called the subsequent negative response to this decision “another knee-jerk reaction.”
Quinn then went on to praise his company´s new plans, which AT&T forced unlimited plan owners to switch to if they wanted to use FaceTime over 4G.