Verizon confirmed that it will not charge customers additional fees for FaceTime calling or require them to switch to a Share Everything plan to use Apple’s video calling feature. AT&T, Verizon’s primary competitor, is limiting FaceTime over its mobile network to iPhones that are part of a Mobile Share plan. This revelation is especially relevant since iOS 6 will be available beginning September 19 and the iPhone 5 will begin shipping on September 21.
FaceTime calling hasn’t functioned over mobile networks thus far. iPhone and iPad users were required to connect to Wi-Fi networks before placing or receiving FaceTime calls. Apple’s changing things with iOS 6 however and allowing Facetime over mobile networks for the first time. This is due in part because the iPhone 5 features 4G LTE, a wireless technology that should provide a seamless video calling experience.
In a press release announcing its iPhone 5 partnership with Apple, Verizon stated:
And,customers wanting to use FaceTime on their iPhone 5 can do so using any Verizon Wireless data plan allowance.
Verizon customers on individual plans or who are grandfathered into unlimited data plans will surely welcome this news. This contrasts with AT&T’s FaceTime policy. The company released a statement a couple of weeks ago on the matter that read:
AT&T will offer FaceTime over Cellular as an added benefit of our new Mobile Share data plans, which were created to meet customers’ growing data needs at a great value. With Mobile Share, the more data you use, the more you save. FaceTime will continue to be available over Wi-Fi for all our customers.
While many iPhone users will save money by switching from AT&T’s old plans to its new Mobile Share plans, others will see steep fee increases. Those with grandfathered unlimited data plans will have to select a Mobile Share plan with with limited data if they want to use Facetime over AT&T’s 3G and 4G services. This is yet another example of AT&T’s attempts to migrate customers away from unlimited data plans.
Sprint is the only carrier in the United States to offer unlimited data with new iPhone 5 purchases. Like Verizon, Sprint will not charge extra for FaceTime calls or force customers to change plans to enjoy all of the iPhone 5’s features.
iPhone users that aren’t upgrading to the iPhone 5 should keep an eye on their carriers’ Facetime policies. FaceTime calling is available on the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and New iPad (3rd Generation). The service is also available on Apple’s new iPod Touch, but Verizon’s policy doesn’t matter much in the iPod Touch department since the device is Wi-Fi only.