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peter

June 6th 2010 10:32 pm

It's funny, for all the talk about the new iPhone having a front-facing camera for video calls I have yet to see anyone propose that one of the reasons why…

AT&T instituted those new bandwidth caps was in order to prevent a deluge of bandwidth gobbling video chats kneecapping their already overstrained network. I'm very curious to see how much bandwidth a 20 minute iPhone video chat will use up.

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38 replies
ChrisB

That was my first thought when they announced the 2gb cap. They don't want everyone crippling their network even more with video calls. I'm still undecided if I'll keep my unlimited plan or save $5 a month on the 2gb plan. The most I've ever used in a month was 1.9gb, but my average is around 1gb.
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sstanzione

What seems odd to me is that the app is called FaceTime and not iChat.... it would seem like a logical name for such an app
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nicuptown

i agree with you. y not make an ichat app like they did for iMovie? its so strange. plus u cant communicate with anything except another iphone 4. y not make a iphone version of ichat and allow the chat functionality as well as video calling from all apple devices?
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thecreative

I think they want to help create an new video call standard that if adopted by other makers would make it possible to video call anyone.

Apple also knows the app developers have them covered. Skype, AOL, Qik, Ustream will all have video chat app this summer. Phone to Phone, phone to computer. Phone to web. Let the developers do the work for them. Which is honestly a nice way for Apple to help their developers rake in even more money. Instead of trumping their efforts.
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nicuptown

o i see. so basically they make a framework for other developers to build upon and make apps based on that. nice (y). i guess thats what they meant by open? that they would allow other apps to use that api?
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estoughton

I don't know if this has been covered, but is it a FaceTime app???
From the Sam Mendes commercial, they seem to be showing 1 person calling the other, and then they enable video (as if it is a part of just using the phone). Do we know what the consensus on this is?
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thecreative

No. FaceTime is part of the phone app. Built into the OS for iPhone 4 only. But the framework for FaceTime is going to be released so other's can use it to build apps.

It'll be interesting if Google adopts it for Android like they adopter webkit.
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estoughton

Yes. This is what I thought (from the looks of the Sam Mendes commercial). Thanks for clarifying.
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eawortman

It's worth noting that the new data plans don't only apply to Apple users, they do actually have other users on the network affected by this. For example Blackberries just got a hell of a lot cheaper per month to have. My data used to be $45 a month on that device and like the iPhone now, I never went over 175mb in a month.
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thecreative

That is worth noting. And I hear other providers will be following suit. Unlimited plans will be a thing of the past until data is just a part of own a mobile device.
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AwsmAdm

I believe it is wifi only: www.engadget.com­/2010­/06­/07­/facetime­-video­-calling...
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eawortman

Thats a good point on the original post.
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AwsmAdm

was it already established or did the thread turn into something else?
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eawortman

I think you might be the first person to say it, but it was part of the announcement during the keynote. I scanned through the above posts and didn't see any mention of it. Most of the discussion ended up about data caps.
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kessler

We don't necessarily know that video calls will work over AT&T just yet, do we? Perhaps Apple will introduce an iChat app that works over WiFi. If they sell a million iPhones in the first week and everyone is making video calls, I'm fairly certain AT&T will seriously be hurting.
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peter

It's certainly possible -- I wouldn't put anything past AT&T right now.
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ChrisB

There's no way they'd limit video calls to just WiFi. I think the main reason for these new data plans is to make sure they won't be hurting with all these video calls.
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ranhalt

"There's no way they'd limit Skype to Wi-Fi..."
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estoughton

Do you know what AT&T has limited previously?
I wouldn't at all be surprised if they made it Wi-Fi only.
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ChrisB

You're right...I didn't even think about that. Wow. I take back that comment. Lets hope this new 2gb limit allows them to offer more 3g streaming services (like video calls).
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kessler

I take this back actually. Just remembered we saw screens of a "Start Video Chat" option on the active call screen when 4.0 was released to devs.
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lvdjgarcia

Add all the streaming apps, like MLB, Slingbox, Netflix etc.. All of them a huge bandwidth hogs..at$t (& I believe the other carriers) are deathly afraid of the stress their networks are going to be under in the coming years..
This doesn't even include the number of people using their phones to tether laptops..I would hate to be in charge maintaing any carrier's network..
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thecreative

I was kind of thinking that a video call would use your minutes and not your data (even though technically it does). I think that could be a fair solution.

Also Apple may have worked up a deal with AT&T to allow video calls so that it won't be a headache for users to worry about going over their data cap. OR it could be an add on to your plan. What carrier has ever done video calls for the masses? None. It's new territory for them to try and one up each other with or completely F up all together.

I don't see Apple offering a feature that will be crippled by AT&T's new plans. Of course we don't know if Apple knew about these new plans or not before hand. Also these video calls will be limited to other iPhone 4G customers on AT&T. So an EVO to iPhone video call won't happen, unless there a video call standard I don't know about.

What would be neat is if iChat on the iPhone could video chat with someone on the Mac iChat. That almost requires Apple to release iChat for Windows.

Of course 3rd party video chat apps will be allowed to do this but probably only under Wi-Fi.

Tons of questions on this topic that we will find out about tomorrow. Can't wait.
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estoughton

I don't see why it would use your minutes if you are video chatting through iChat or Skype.
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joewilcox

Chatting over WiFi, you wouldn't consume your AT&T data allotment. Over 3G you would.
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estoughton

Well, yes, of course. Someone was implying that you may be using your voice minutes for video calling. I was pretty certain that you wouldn't be.
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thecreative

Of course it's not using your minutes if it's not allowed over the 3G network. When it is allowed we'll see how they work it out. So using your minutes is still possible. Or the bandwidth caps need increased.
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LeTueur

It would certainty become a WiFi preferred app, IMO. Not sure how people will respond when they start using it over 3G and then look at their phone bill. There will be blood.
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ideasatrandom

This article "How Much Video Can You Actually Stream With AT&T’s New Data Plans?" has good information about usage estimates

Link: www.clicker.com­/blog­/how­-much­-video­-can­-you­-actual...
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joewilcox

I did: www.betanews.com­/joewilcox­/article­/10­-things­-you­-s... :)
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Enosone

Definitely think those bandwidth caps were specifically designed to curb/price gouge heavy users. The new front-facing camera and now Netflix for iPhone and iPad all sound data-hungry.
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joshuakarjala

How long until we get some serious showdown between big cloud content providers like Google, Netflix, Microsoft etc. and all the ISP and Wireless providers who want caps?

The providers will end up having their business opportunities severely restrained as it looks now.

Luckily here in Denmark capped plans with ISP are only present as "ultracheap" plans for people who only check e-mail. But the wireless providers do have caps. Given that most streaming video now is US only - it's not that big of a deal yet.
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Rousterfar

Why the caps? It's almost certainly because ATT is thinking forward. While they can claim with a certain level of honesty that the vast majority of users today don't approach 2 gigs, the mobile landscape is changing fast. One of the biggest announcements at the WWDC was in my opinion Netflix for the iPhone. It's coming and it will work over 3G. How long before we get an ABC media player and even Hulu on it? Once these all hit and go mainstream, bandwidth usage is going to explode. Never mind music streaming (rumored iTunes.com, anyone?) that's going to continue to grow and become more popular.

My opinion is the caps are not so much to protect ATT's already hurting network, as a forward thinking way to be able to nickel and dime the consumer in a way they would not have been able to before. Get consumers used to these caps now, when data usage is still low, and reep the additional profits once we all have to start buying extra gigs of data each month. ATT is a lot smarter then people give them credit for. We are going down a dangerous road and I worry it's going to hurt inovation.

It's also important to note that ATT is not the only one with these plans. Verizon has publicly stated they are interested in moving to data cap plans and once the two big guys are on them, does anyone really think TMobile and Sprint won't follow?
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eawortman

That's a reasonable stance on it if we assume these caps never change and if we assume free wifi hotspots don't continue to increase.
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Rousterfar

Free wifi hotspots will never replace cellular data. They simply cannot cover the same area that it does. Considering that they created a cap of 2gigs for $25 instead of the old "unlimited" for $30 that technically had a cap of 5gigs, I have no faith they will change the caps to be more advantageous for the consumer.
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eawortman

I never said they would replace cellular data, but it certainly helps augment it. I use the crap out of my phone, but only use an average of 140mb per month. This happens because most of the time I am in wifi, whether its my house, my work, or at a restaurant.

Plus these caps don't affect you if you don't drop your unlimited.
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Rousterfar

I'm not paying a monthly fee to assume I should have to augment my cellular data with Wi-Fi. With all due respect, it's ridiculous to assume anyone should.

You are right I am grandfathered into the unlimited plan. That does not change my argument as it was about the community as a whole, not just me. As the industry moves forward and technologies get better the consumer will be consuming more and more data. As streaming becomes bigger and more widely used and people become increasingly comfortable with buying media such as movies and TV shows with their devices on the go data consumption averages will skyrocket. With the new plans, ATT has positioned themselves nicely profit even more at their consumer's expense.

Also keep in mind that being grandfathered in on the unlimited plan prevents me from being able to tether my iPhone to my laptop on the go.
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eawortman

Perhaps they will make more from some, but they will be loosing $15 a month on each of the smartphones in my household.
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