Friday, June 25, 2010

iPhone 4: FaceTime over 3G

So my nephew and I waited in line at the Valley Fair Apple store yesterday and got the new Jesus Phone. For the most part, it has been reviewed to death all over the web and I don't have a lot to add to what has already been written. Except for one thing.

FaceTime is the new video chat feature, and it works every bit as well as advertised. As was noted, the feature has been limited to WiFi only for the moment. This means that it won't work over 3G. This raises the question as to whether or not this limitation is an artificial one, or that maybe there are problems with it working over 3G.

Well, I am one of the few who can answer that categorically. I have a MiFi 2372 on AT&T. With it, and with my iPhone connected to it, I am still using the exact same HSUPA networking as the phone would have by itself, but the phone is "fooled" into dropping 3G restrictions.

I've made a few FaceTime calls this way now, and I can report that it works just as perfectly over 3G as it does when a pair of phones are in the same room sharing a wifi hotspot. Clearly the wifi only restriction has more to do with AT&T figuring out how to price the feature rather than any sort of technological limitation.

Unless AT&T is going to attempt some sort of equally artificial pricing for FaceTime, I'm not sure why they simply wouldn't price it like any other data. I mean, mobile-to-mobile calls (to other AT&T phones) are already free. So the mere switching of those calls over to data won't impact anyone's minute count.

I suppose AT&T may have wanted to avoid swamping their network with FaceTime activity on day one, but if that's true, then we should see the feature opened up for 3G sooner rather than later.

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