updated 02:45 am EDT, Tue July 17, 2012
Screen suggests users dial 611 to add service for FaceTime
Cell provider AT&T has seemingly made the decision to charge users for using Apple's FaceTime technology on its wireless network. An error page similar to the tethering dialog appears when AT&T customers attempt to engage the FaceTime over cellular network feature when running the latest iOS 6 beta. The same error message does not occur when trying to activate the feature on a Verizon iPhone.
At the time of the iOS 6 debut during the 2012 Worldwide Developer's Conference keynote, no carriers participated in the announcement of FaceTime over 3G. AT&T has issued a statement regarding FaceTime on its network similar to its post-WWDC notice, saying that the company was "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."
Randall Stephenson, AT&T's chief executive has previously expressed remorse at offering unlimited data for the iPhone and decries free texting services like iMessage as injurious to the carrier's profits. AT&T discontinued unlimited data for the iPhone in 2010, with the exception of grandfathered plans, and has moved to tiered data offerings. Services like iMessage and FaceTime, despite being limited to iOS and Mac devices, represent almost pure profit for carriers since the data rides on the low-bandwidth "carrier wave" of cellular communications.
"You lay awake at night worrying [that services like iMessage] will disrupt your business model," Stephenson said. Over 70 percent of the people on tiered data plans tend towards purchasing the more expensive offerings. Mobile data alone generates $6.1 billion per quarter for AT&T.