If you’ve been trying to connect to video chat using the new Google+ Hangouts app and you happen to be an AT&T customer, then it’s no accident that you’re being told to connect over a Wi-Fi network, as it turns out that AT&T is deliberately blocking the application from running over its network.
This isn’t the first time that the carrier has blocked video chat apps from working properly on its network, iPhone users may remember that FaceTime shared similar problems when it first launched as well.
AT&T has responded to the issue with the following statement:
All AT&T Mobility customers can use any video chat app over cellular that is not pre-loaded on their device, but which they download from the Internet. For video chat apps that come pre-loaded on devices, we offer all OS and device makers the ability for those apps to work over cellular for our customers who are on Mobile Share.
In other words, AT&T seems to be saying that if an app comes pre-loaded on a handset then OS and device manufacturers have to contact AT&T in order to have their app approved. Now that sounds like a fairly reasonable policy, the aim being to prevent manufacturers from pre-installing software which eats up AT&T’s bandwidth. But is the new Hangouts app really “pre-loaded” and what criteria has to be met before an app is allowed on AT&T’s network?\
The policy also seems a little lacking in common sense, considering that the iPhone version of Hangouts, which is a separate download, works fine when video calling over AT&T’s network. But rather than realising that these apps are the same, the Android version remains blocked. Of course, there’s always the more sinister angle that AT&T simply doesn’t want users to be able to video chat for free over a data connection.
Sadly, it looks like we’ll just have to wait and see whether AT&T removes this restriction.