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AT&T randomly letting some customers use FaceTime on cellular

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AT&T customers on tiered data plans with LTE devices can already use Apple's FaceTime over mobile connections, but now the operator is spreading the love just in time for the holidays.

For AT&T customers on new unlimited tariffs, and those hanging on to old contracts, Apple's decision to permit FaceTime over cellular on iOS6 was academic, as AT&T wouldn't allow it. But those customers are now finding the restriction has disappeared, along with the dialogue box which warned of it.

Customers on an "unlimited" tariff had previously found themselves unable to get Facetime over cellular, without shifting to one of the new "tiered" tariffs which restrict the total data available based on how much one pays, but yesterday a forum user over at MacRumours noticed the restriction had disappeared and now it seems half the world can use Apple's video conferencing without searching for some Wi-Fi.

Half the world, but not the other half - as it seems the capability is being rolled out slowly across the AT&T customer base so some users report no change, while others are happily chatting to their friends while out and about.

Users who aren't in the lucky half are still getting the popup warning when they try to run Facetime without a Wi-Fi connection:

"FaceTime requires an active Wi-Fi Connection ro an eligible cellular data plan. To enable FaceTime over cellular on thus account, contact AT&T"

...at which point the customer is offered one of the new tariffs.

AT&T has faced customer complaints, and legal challenges, over its decision to limit FaceTime - charging even those with unlimited tariffs a premium to be able to use the video calling service. The challenge was on the grounds that other video services are allowed, so AT&T was violating Net Neutrality regulations, a complaint which would have held more water if mobile operators weren’t exempted from Net Neutrality.

But AT&T's position was still perverse, and while the company has yet to say anything official on the matter the proportion of customer able to use FaceTime has reached such a point where any attempt to reverse the situation would cause such howls of indignation as to be counter productive. ®

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