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Will AT&T charge you for FaceTime over its network?

An error message that popped up on iOS 6 indicates that AT&T customers will need to "enable FaceTime over cellular" before using it.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor 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.
Don Reisinger

AT&T might charge customers to run FaceTime over its cellular network, according to a report.

The folks over at Apple blog 9to5Mac yesterday published a screenshot of an error message that popped up in their developer version of iOS 6 when they attempted to place a FaceTime call over AT&T's network. The message reads that users must "enable FaceTime over cellular" by contacting AT&T or visiting their online account.

FaceTime has historically been available only via Wi-Fi. However, in iOS 6, Apple will allow iDevices to hold video chats over cellular networks. That AT&T and more than likely, Apple's other carrier partners, might want to charge for FaceTime chatting, isn't much of a surprise. Video chats use up an inordinate amount of data, which could put significant pressure on the carriers' networks. The best way to ensure costs don't soar would be to charge for that.

Charging for a feature is by no means new. AT&T, for example, charges for Personal Hotspot, which allows several people to share a single wireless connection through a device.

So far, AT&T and its carrier competitors have not confirmed that they'll charge for FaceTime, and in a statement to 9to5Mac, the carrier said that it'll "share more information with our customers as it becomes available."

Apple, meanwhile, has laid down some hints that charges are on the way. On its iOS 6 page, it notes that "carrier data charges may apply" for FaceTime over a cellular network.