Dan Frommer of Silicon Alley Insider is sharing some good news with iPhone 4 buyers and prospective buyers this weekend. According to his sources from Apple, the new FaceTime video calls - as hoped - won't use any carrier minutes even when initiated from within a voice call.
The report comes as a welcome morsel of positive news as many AT&T customers have grown restless and eager to find out more about the potential costs and restrictions of the long-awaited iPhone video call feature.
While some have accused both Apple and AT&T of using "cryptic language" when referring to the FaceTime feature, many of the details we've waited for are now finally be coming to light. After all, the Apple rep told Frommer that "The voice call ends as soon as the FaceTime call connects. The FaceTime call is over Wi-Fi so does not use carrier minutes." That's pretty straightforward and far from "cryptic."
Apart from the ease with which carrier minutes would disintegrate if absorbed during FaceTime calls, some AT&T customers also expressed concern that a shoddy 3G mobile connection would preclude users from having an enjoyable, smooth video phone call. Wi-Fi reliability will underpin FaceTime calls, which won't have the voice call continued in the background as a "backup" should the video call abruptly end.
For the next version of FaceTime that works over 3G, Apple and its carrier partners will need to decide how those calls are billed -- as minutes toward voice calling, as data toward monthly data caps, or both, or something entirely different.