Aug. 20, 2012 at 1:53 PM ET
AT&T will let its iPhone customers use FaceTime over its cellular network, but there's a catch: Customers will have to sign up for one of the carrier's new mobile share data plans, which could wind up costing more.
With Apple's iOS 6, due out soon, FaceTime — which lets you do video calling with other Apple-equipped users — will go from being a Wi-Fi-only feature to one that works over 3G cellular networks. Other iPhone carriers in the U.S., Verizon Wireless and Sprint, have been mum so far on how they'll handle the new feature.
"AT&T will offer FaceTime over cellular as an added benefit of our new Mobile Share data plans, which were created to meet customers' growing data needs at a great value," said an AT&T spokesman in a statement to NBC News. "With Mobile Share, the more data you use, the more you save. FaceTime will continue to be available over Wi-Fi for all our customers."
Whether it's a "great value" will depend on your personal situation. Generally, if you've only got a few devices on an AT&T plan, such as one or two iPhones, for example, you may not want to make the switch — and if you're an existing customer you don't have to make the switch (but you will if you want that "free" FaceTime over cellular).
To find out what you might wind up paying, AT&T has a "Mobile Share Planner tool," that can help; there's also another look at the plan in this PDF which shows usage and costs from 1 GB to 20 GB. And if you're comparison shopping, have a look at this shared-data face-off between AT&T and Verizon.