Verizon Wireless to include mobile FaceTime on all data plans


U.S. operator will not charge extra for video calling services, unlike rival AT&T. Verizon Wireless is including use of Apple Inc.’s FaceTime video-calling feature over its cellular network on all of its data plans, as opposed to rival AT&T Inc.

The application has been available for use over Wi-Fi connections, but the latest version of Apple’s operating system will allow for use over cellular networks. All Verizon Wireless customers will be permitted to use the data-intensive application with no additional charges, including those remaining on unlimited data plans, according to a company spokeswoman.

In contrast, AT&T is requiring subscribers to sign up for its data-sharing plans to use FaceTime over cellular. Sprint Nextel Corp. has said it wouldn’t place limits on FaceTime use.

The new feature will be available when Apple’s releases the latest edition of the iPhone’s operating system on Sept. 19.

FaceTime uses a camera on the iPhone to connect with others on their phones, iPads or Mac computers. The data consumption from FaceTime on a cellular network could be significant for regular users as the next-generation iPhone will operate on 4G networks using LTE, or Long Term Evolution, technology. The iPhone 5 upgrades the device’s front-facing camera to high-definition, a feature that may also increase data usage.

AT&T and Verizon Wireless have been phasing out unlimited-data offerings for smartphones. They launched new plans over the summer that allow multiple devices to draw from one data account but raise prices for many customers.

Despite restricting FaceTime usage on its network, AT&T has highlighted that its plans offer more choices to consumers, compared to Verizon Wireless’s requirement for new customers to adopt a shared-data plan.

Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC.