What AT&T‘s Data Plans Mean for Video Conferencing

As you probably have heard by now AT&T changed its smart phone data plans – you can no longer purchase ‘unlimited’ data plans. Instead you must settle for 2gb of data – not too shabby, but no unlimited. This all seems well and good given that most users barely broach the 300mb mark each month, but then again isn’t the new iPhone 4G rumored to have a front facing camera?

According to a lot of reports, including the iPhone 4G that was ‘found’ by Gizmodo, the new iPhone will indeed have a front facing camera – presumably for video conferencing. Now this seems pretty sweet, until you remember that AT&T is only allowing you to use 2gb of data each month. Uh Oh.

So there are two options that I see here, assuming of course that Apple is going to launch the iPhone 4G with built-in video conferencing. The first is probably the most obvious, AT&T will make U.S. customers wait a year to use the feature and then add $30/mo to your bill to allow you to talk on video chat for 100 minutes each month (I am making this all up, I have no sources). Basically, option one is AT&T charging an extra charge each month for video conferencing, not at all unlikely.

Option two is that the new iPhone won’t be able to use the existing cellular networks for video conferencing and instead this will be a Wi-Fi only feature (making one wonder why you would use an iPhone over your home computer). This would allow Apple to completely by-pass AT&T and give its customers free video chats.

Assuming Apple does launch video chats on the iPhone, I unfortunately would expect them to go down the road of option 2 – wi-fi only. My guess would be that at that point they would work with AT&T to get it over 3G and release a software update supporting it just before Christmas.

Originally posted for members on: June 3, 2010
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