Sprint Commits to Free 3G FaceTime, AT&T & Verizon Stall

One feature iPhone and iPad users can expect when iOS 6 ships this fall is support for FaceTime video chats over 3G wireless data connections, and cell service provider Sprint has committed to letting customers use the feature without paying. AT&T and Verizon, however, aren’t committing yet.

Sprint says FaceTime on 3G will be free“We are committed to our unlimited data and that means not charging for data consumption based on the application,” a Sprint spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal.

A dialog suggesting users will need to pay to use FaceTime over 3G connections in the beta version of iOS 6 has led to speculation that AT&T plans to charge customers extra to video chat when not on Wi-Fi networks. AT&T isn’t commenting on the report, but did say it is working closely with Apple on the development of iOS 6 and “will share information with our customers as it becomes available.”

Verizon isn’t commenting on whether or not it plans to charge customers for FaceTime chats, either.

Currently, FaceTime video chatting is limited to Wi-Fi networks, but Apple will be opening the feature to 3G wireless data connections when iOS 6 ships. The feature uses the built-in front-facing camera in the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch for video chats, and is also available on the Mac.

Concern over how much wireless data customers will use for video chatting has carriers concerned, although Sprint doesn’t seem to think it will be a big issue. For AT&T and Verizon subscribers that don’t have unlimited data plans, the amount of data FaceTime could potentially use for video might be enough to keep them from using the feature when they aren’t on a Wi-Fi network.