AT&T expands FaceTime over cellular support

At long last—after considerable customer criticism—AT&T said Wednesday it will let even more customers use the FaceTime video chatting service over its cellular networks. Mark Collins, the company’s senior vice president of voice and data products, made the announcement in a blog post. “As a result of ongoing testing, we’re announcing AT&T will enable FaceTime over Cellular at no extra charge for customers with any tiered data plan using a compatible iOS device.”

Previously, FaceTime over cellular was available to customers with the company’s “Mobile Share” plan, or those with an LTE device (like the iPhone 5) on the company’s tiered plans. Wednesday’s announcement benefits those customers using the iPhone 4S.

But those customers may have to wait yet. Collins said that the rollout of the service “will be applied automatically over the next few months.” He didn’t indicate which regions might receive the service first, nor which ones will have to wait to the end of that period. AT&T took a similar approach when it started rolling out FaceTime over cellular to its LTE customers last fall.

AT&T spent much of the previous year rebuffing criticism from customers and net neutrality groups about its slow rollout of FaceTime over cellular, even though it had seemingly hastened the process.

Now, Collins said, AT&T is assured the service won’t overwhelm its data networks. “We wanted to roll it out gradually,” he said, “to ensure the service had minimal impact on the mobile experience for all of our customers.”

Sprint and Verizon both already offered all iPhone customers the ability to place FaceTime calls over their cellular networks.

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