AT&T Facetime charges may make your bill heftier. Reports suggest that telecom giant is considering imposing fee for using Facetime on its network
When an attempt is made by customers to activate FaceTime in iOS 6 over cellular net works, they get an error message. The error message is the same as when customers get trying to data tether under the iOS. Data tethering is a paid service with separate data plan. All this happens over AT&T connection and not Verizon connection.
Carriers had not revealed much details when iOS 6 was announced and when contacted, a spokesperson of AT&T said, “We are working closely with Apple on features disclosed for iOS 6, and we’ll share more information with our customers as we get closer to launch.”
About the service being limited and a paid one over 3G, AT&T issued a statement, “We’re working closely with Apple on the new developer build of iOS 6 and we’ll share more information with our customers as it becomes available.”
FaceTime is a video-calling application offered in iOS that customers use over networks. The application uses a camera on both sides of the connection on the the iPhone to connect with others on their phones, iPads or Mac computers. The application had, initially, been available only when both the caller and the receiver were connected through Wi Fi. The new charged service by AT&T would also be available over 3G network.
After becoming a charged service with its separate data plan, this service can translate into an extra source of depleting chunks of data usage, even as telecom companies find new ways to charge customers for different services.
While AT&T customers might be wondering about the extra cost they will have to shell out for use of FaceTime, Verizon Wireless has also come out with a new price regime that targets the data usage by subscribers and would raise the cost of the same higher for them. Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Vodafone and Verizon group.
This is not all on the part of AT&T. the network firm is about to reveal its own revised pricing structure that would invariably be costlier for subscribers. AT&T happens to be the first network firm to come out with fixed data usage plans for customers. Since 2010, AT&T has succeeded in getting 60% of its customers off the unlimited data usage plans, much to its profit.
Sprint Nextel Corp is the only firm so far that offers exclusive unlimited data to users on its network.
Akshay Sharma, an analyst at research firm Gartner, revealed that FaceTime uses variable bandwidth so that the quality of the picture can adjust to the available connection speed. This was the case on Wi Fi. But on advanced 4G connection, FaceTime can easily adjust and choose to use the data at the maximum rate. This can translate into a large cunk of data usage in a very short duration of FaceTime usage.
Sharma explains that on Wi-Fi FaceTime uses about 1.5 to 7.5 megabytes per minute. This is equal to 11 hours of talk time from one gigabyte of data use at the lowest rate. At the highest rate, it translates to about two hours and 15 minutes. Put in context the fact that streaming video on a 4G network eats about six megabytes per minute.
Now this means that users can unwittingly use up to one gigabyte of data in just a single FaceTime call that would last five minutes. For those subscribing to the low-end plan of one GB data usage a month, their whole month is gone in five minutes!
This ability of FaceTime to adjust to varying bandwidth was one of the reasons it was not allowed on networks that were dominated by unlimited data usage plans.
Charles Golvin, an analyst at Forrester says, “The preponderance of data plans connected to the iPhone are now metered, so the concern of someone using a lot of data is now mitigated”.