In a move that will surprise no one, AT&T released a statement regarding FaceTime on its cellular network. Apple announced FaceTime over cellular at WWDC, but AT&T this month was quick to point out that only its Mobile Share customers will be able to use Apple's video chat tool. There appears to be no restrictions on Skype, Google+, ooVoo, Yahoo Messenger, IM+, Fring, etc. Why? Because none of those apps are pre-installed on your iPhone, whereas FaceTime is.
You see, after AT&T was called to the mat over net neutrality (which would mandate AT&T treat FaceTime data the same as all those other apps which will work just fine on my unlimited data plan), it cleverly pointed out that net neutrality doesn't apply because FaceTime is not only pre-installed, but is obviously "subject to some reasonable restrictions."
AT&T goes even further, in my opinion. Not content to flick customers with their white glove, they add a little spit by informing us irate customers that AT&T is not legally obligated to allow your iPhone to have any preloaded apps at all. From AT&T's statement:
"Indeed, the rules do not require that providers make available any preloaded apps. Rather, they address whether customers are able to download apps that compete with our voice or video telephony services."
In the next paragraph they point out how lucky we all are!
"Although the rules don't require it, some preloaded apps are available without charge on phones sold by AT&T, including FaceTime, but subject to some reasonable restrictions."
See, we poor stupid iPhone owners are just lucky that we're even able to walk into an Apple Store and buy an AT&T phone with any apps on it at all. I mean, it's not like we have a choice in carrier these days.
Can you imagine this being said while Steve Jobs was alive? Can you imagine how customers would respond if AT&T iPhones had no pre-installed apps? You can make your own joke about the efficacy of the Phone app on AT&T's network, I'll just be over here making sure no one tells them about Mobile Safari.
By the way, FaceTime was downloaded after I signed up for AT&T service, although it obviously only started working once I moved from a 3GS to an iPhone 4. I'm not sure if AT&T counts this download since it was part of an OS update.
Look, it's obviously what's going on here. Bean counters at AT&T decided the churn from lost customers was worth the added cost of lingering unlimited data customers like me. I've already been denied tethering (don't worry, I bought a Verizon iPad), and this is the last straw for me. AT&T clearly needs to bolster its network, and is happy to do that on the backs of clueless customers who are content to lump all their data needs together and be nickel-and-dimed over niceties like texting.
As a divorced dad, my son likes to call me to chat every night he's not with me. He prefers FaceTime (he has an iPod touch), and is bummed when we have to use Skype. Now I get to tell him (after telling him FaceTime would work over cellular) that because daddy is an AT&T customer, he can't use FaceTime over cellular still. Oh wait, that won't happen because I'm switching to Verizon.