AT&T iPhone 4S now gets FaceTime over cellular

The carrier had previously said that it would open FaceTime only for those who have a 4G LTE device and have a mobile data sharing plan.

Apple

AT&T has loosened its grip on FaceTime availability.

FaceTime access has opened up to those who own the iPhone 4S and who have grandfathered unlimited data plans. Macrumors discovered the feature from users in forums.

An AT&T representative said "we're looking into it."

At one time, AT&T had banned FaceTime access via its cellular network, limiting use to Wi-Fi systems. But earlier this month the company announced that it would open it up to those who had an LTE-equipped device and a Mobile Share data plan . All others were left out. According to Macrumors, AT&T has backtracked a bit, giving FaceTime access to iPhone 4S owners (who obviously don't have access to its LTE network), as well as those outside of its Mobile Share data plan.

AT&T has been one of the more restrictive U.S. carriers when it comes to FaceTime access. The company's top executive on legislative and regulatory affairs, Jim Cicconi, has argued that's because it has the most iPhones of any carrier, and the data impact on video conferencing over its network would be huge.

"AT&T has by far more iPhones on our network than any other carrier," Cicconi wrote in a blog post earlier this month. "We're proud of this fact and the confidence our customers have in us. But it also means that when Apple rolls out new services or changes, as it did in iOS 6, it can have a much greater, and more immediate, impact on AT&T's network than is the case with carriers who have far fewer iPhone users."

In order to get FaceTime running on the iPhone 4S, users must turn their handset off and then back on. According to some forum posters, FaceTime works quite well over AT&T's network.

Updated at 10:37 a.m. PT: to include a comment from AT&T.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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