Big news for those who thought that the truest expression of “the future” was the video phone, as Verizon Wireless confirmed earlier this week that its customers will be able to use Apple's FaceTime (News - Alert) application over cellular on any data plan the company offers.
Part of a statement announcing the availability of the iPhone 5 on its own network, Verizon Wireless (News - Alert) made it pretty clear that users would be able to use FaceTime on their phones, regardless of what data plan they were under, by virtue of the phrase “...can do so using any Verizon Wireless data plan allowance.”
A good move in general terms, but an even better move in competitive terms, as rival AT&T (News - Alert) is on record saying only customers with shared data plans would be able to get in on the FaceTime fun. This led to accusations that AT&T was violating net neutrality rules, though AT&T was quick to deny any such problem, with Bob Quinn of AT&T explaining exactly why the shared data plan concept really had nothing to do with net neutrality.
Still, thanks to iOS 6, which will be pre-loaded on the iPhone (News - Alert) 5 and available starting September 19, FaceTime will be usable over cellular networks, and Verizon is taking that particular ball and running with it.
Image via Shutterstock
This is a very good move for Verizon. Not only does it provide a way to differentiate itself from its admittedly lesser rivals, but it also leaves AT&T with a substantial amount of egg on its face. Verizon is busily being “cool dad,” handing out goodies like no tomorrow, while AT&T is left to harrumph and explain why its policies don't actually break recently-minted federal communications standards, while also somewhat missing the key point – that it's not going to offer a service that its competitors will offer.
AT&T's sales of the iPhone 5 will still be brisk, of course, but for those on the fence about whether to buy from Verizon or AT&T might find themselves handing Verizon money instead of AT&T when the big iPhone 5 launch happens.
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Edited by Braden Becker