Confirmed: AT&T enables FaceTime over cellular for iPhone 5 customers with unlimited data

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) has begun enabling Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) FaceTime video chatting service over its cellular network for customers who have an LTE-capable iPhone 5 and an unlimited data plan, according to an AT&T spokesman.

AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel confirmed to FierceWireless that the carrier is following through on its May pledge on the topic. The news about FaceTime was first reported by AppleInsider.

"We're simply doing what we said we would do, as we outlined in the original statement on this issue," Siegel said.

In May, AT&T clarified its position on video chatting apps over cellular after a furor broke out about Google's Hangouts app. The app, available for Google's Android, Apple's iOS and on the Web, integrates text, photo and video interactions into one service. AT&T prevented the video chat functionality from running on its cellular network, although the feature is accessible over Wi-Fi connections.

"For video chat apps that come pre-loaded on devices, we currently give all OS and device makers the ability for those apps to work over cellular for our customers who are on Mobile Share or Tiered plans. Apple, Samsung and BlackBerry have chosen to enable this for their pre-loaded video chat apps," the carrier said in a statement in May. "And by mid-June, we'll have enabled those apps over cellular for our unlimited plan customers who have LTE devices from those three manufacturers."

Thus, today's news indicates AT&T has begun allowing video chat services to run over its cellular network for customers with unlimited data plans, at least for iPhone 5s using FaceTime.

AT&T further said that throughout the second half of this year, it plans to "enable pre-loaded video chat apps over cellular for all our customers, regardless of data plan or device; that work is expected to be complete by year end. Today, all of our customers can use any mobile video chat app that they download from the Internet, such as Skype."

In January, AT&T announced iPhone users on tiered data plans could conduct FaceTime calls over its cellular network at no additional cost. Before then, the video chatting service was limited to AT&T's iOS users with an AT&T Mobile Share plan or those with LTE-capable devices. 

Net neutrality advocates have said that AT&T's restrictions violate net neutrality rules, an argument that AT&T has disputed.

For more:
- see this AppleInsider article
- see this CNET article

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