AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson took the stage this afternoon at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, where he was asked about a recent report in 9toMac that AT&T might charge customers extra if they want to use FaceTime over 3G cellular networks (a feature that was announced for iOS 6).
The company previously offered a generic “we’ll share more information with our customers as it becomes available” statement with 9to5Mac. Stephenson didn’t go too much further, but he certainly didn’t rule the charge out.
“I’ve heard the same rumor,” he said, insisting that for now, AT&T is focused on working with Apple to get the technology stabilized, so “it’s too early to talk about pricing.”
Speaking of controversial pricing news from AT&T, Stephenson was also asked about the “toll free” data idea that been the company has been discussing, where app developers pay for their users’ data usage, either with a direct payment or by giving AT&T a cut of ad revenues.
Stephenson acknowledged that this is something people get “emotional” about (when the idea was first reported, our own Jordan Crook called it a “boondoggle”), but he compared it to toll-free, 1-800 phone numbers. Just as it helps Sears to pay the bill for calls from its customers, there are mobile companies that have “business models premised on traffic,” so why not pay to remove any barriers to that traffic? In fact, Stephenson claimed this is something that some of the content providers are asking AT&T for.