To add insult to injury, multiple users who switched to the new plan are reporting on HowardForums and on AT&T's own AT&T Community user forum that they are no longer able to use Apple's Facetime video chat service over cellular data.
When users try to use Facetime over cellular they are greeted by the message shown in the image above or to the right. The www.att.com/personalhotspots webpage mentioned in the message says nothing about Facetime. GoPhone customer service representatives at 611 are clueless as to why Facetime is not working and are unable to enable it.
It's not clear if the FaceTime block is intentional or a glitch. The plans terms of service say nothing about Facetime being blocked. No one from AT&T has responded to the complaints on AT&T's forum. Only Facetime seems to be blocked, I haven't seen any reports of issues with other video chat services such as WhatsApp, Skype or Google's Duo or Hangouts. Blocking one video chat service while allowing others is a clear network neutrality violation, but under the FCC's new management net neutrality is dead and carriers are free to block anything they want.
While all of AT&T's competitors have limitations on their so-called unlimited data plans, the GoPhone unlimited plan by far the most limited in terms of data speeds. It's also one of the most expensive and the only one where Facetime is blocked. Here's how AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobiles unlimited plans compare:
|$50, no taxes||MetroPCS||T-Mobile||full except video limited to 480p||30 GB||no hotspot|
|$50 + taxes of up to 19%||Boost Mobile||Sprint||full except video limited to 480p, audio to 500 mbps, gaming to 2 mbps||23 GB||hotspot throttled after 8 GB|
|$60, no taxes||MetroPCS||T-Mobile||full||30 GB||hotspot throttled after 8 GB|
|$60 , no taxes||Cricket||AT&T||8 mbps||22 GB||no hotspot|
|$65 + taxes of up to 19%||GoPhone||AT&T||3 mbps except video limited to 480p||22 GB||no hotspot, no Facetime|
|$70 + taxes of up to 19%||Boost Mobile||Sprint||full except video limited to 1080p, audio to 1.5 mbps, gaming to 8 mbps||23 GB||hotspot throttled after 8 GB|
As you can see AT&T's own Cricket unlimited plan costs offers faster data, doesn't block Facetime and costs at least $5/month less. The cost savings are greater in most locations because Cricket pays all your taxes, even sales tax, and GoPhone doesn't.
Crippling of the GoPhone unlimited plan seems to be a reversal of AT&T's usual prepaid pricing strategy where Cricket is the "value" brand that costs less and GoPhone is the "premium" brand that has faster data and other perks like no extra cost hotspot and a small amount of off-network roaming. Throttling data speeds, even when the network is lightly loaded. and blocking an app that's built in to every iPhone and used by millions on your premium priced prepaid service makes no sense.
Update 3/18: AT&T has told that FierceWireless that FaceTime not working on the unlimited plan is a technical "glitch". AT&T says that they have fixed for customers who have contacted them and are working on fixing it for all users.
Sources HowardForums, AT&T Community. Image: imgur