AT&T to enable pre-loaded video chat app use over cellular for all customers by end of 2013

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from Omaha, NE
Published: May 20, 2013

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Google's new Hangouts app was finally introduced at I/O last week, and shortly after its announcement, Google made it available for download. Some Android-using AT&T customers ran into a bit of an issue with the new app, though, as they quickly discovered that they were unable to use Hangouts to perform video calls over a cellular connection. AT&T originally provided a statement saying that manufacturers need to enable their systems to allow cellular video chats with preloaded apps, suggesting that Google may need to do something on its end.

The situation continued today with a new statement from AT&T. The big blue carrier has told The Verge that it gives all manufacturers the option of enabling preloaded apps to video chat over a cellular connection for customers with Mobile Share or tiered data plans, adding that Apple, BlackBerry and Samsung have taken advantage of this ability. AT&T goes on to say that it plans to enable cellular video chat for all preloaded apps, regardless of device or OS, throughout the second half of 2013. It expects to finish that work by the end of this year. AT&T's full statement:

"For video chat apps that come pre-loaded on devices, we currently give all OS and device makers the ability for those apps to work over cellular for our customers who are on Mobile Share or Tiered plans. Apple, Samsung and BlackBerry have chosen to enable this for their pre-loaded video chat apps. And by mid-June, we’ll have enabled those apps over cellular for our unlimited plan customers who have LTE devices from those three manufacturers.

Throughout the second half of this year, we plan to enable pre-loaded video chat apps over cellular for all our customers, regardless of data plan or device; that work is expected to be complete by year end.

Today, all of our customers can use any mobile video chat app that they download from the Internet, such as Skype."

Sounds like good news for AT&T customers, especially those that are still clutching their unlimited data plans with a firm, white-knuckled grip. AT&T made some waves in 2012 when it only allowed customers with its Mobile Share data plans to use iOS's FaceTime over Cellular feature, but since then the carrier has opened the functionality up to all of its tiered data customers. Now unlimited customers will be able to get in on the video calling action soon as well, which AT&T says is due to its steady and "deliberate" rollout of video calling support on its network. It's not yet clear how long Android users on AT&T will have to wait before they're able to use Hangouts for their cellular video calling needs, but here's to hoping that AT&T and Google can get things ironed out.

Via The Verge