Using FaceTime internationally
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: My brother has an iPod and I have an iPhone. My brother is in Colombia and I am in Canada. When he’s using FaceTime with me he puts my cell number in and not my e-mail address and it works but I’m wondering if I have to pay because he is using my cellular number? With my email it doesn’t work but with my cellular number it does.
A: There is no charge for using FaceTime since it runs over the Wi-Fi network. Even though your brother is using your cellular phone number to reach your iPhone, the call is placed entirely over the FaceTime network and does not use the cellular network at all.
Basically, think of your iPhone’s cellular phone number as nothing more than a FaceTime “address” that can be used to reach you, just like an e-mail address. When you initially setup FaceTime, your iPhone registered itself with Apple’s FaceTime network, which is completely separate from your cellular carrier’s network and runs entirely over Wi-Fi. This initial registration does involve an “invisible” SMS message exchange with Apple to verify your phone number, but after that it has nothing to do with the cellular voice or data network at all.
Right now only iPod touch, iPad and Mac users can receive FaceTime calls with an e-mail address, which works by setting it up on the device with an Apple ID. The iPhone does not provide the ability to configure an e-mail address for FaceTime, which is why you cannot receive FaceTime calls to an e-mail address. Reports suggest that the ability to use both e-mail addresses and phone numbers on the iPhone may be coming in iOS 5 later this year.
Q: I have a fourth-generation iPod touch and I’m going to Guatemala. Can I use FaceTime over there?
Q: How does FaceTime work internationally? I am in Canada and my fiance is currently in the UK. I have an iPod touch and he is going to get an iPod touch as well but will we be able to use FaceTime internationally?
Q: I am going to Mexico and would like to communicate home. Will I be able to use FaceTime using Wi-Fi? Does it work internationally?
A: There are no international restrictions on using FaceTime, since it runs over the Internet, and not any particular carrier’s cellular network. The only requirement to use FaceTime is that both devices be able to access a Wi-Fi Internet connection that does not have a firewall preventing FaceTime communication. Most public and hotel Wi-Fi networks meet this requirement.
Also keep in mind that even though FaceTime on the iPhone uses phone numbers, these are actually just “addresses” that are used to identify your device on the FaceTime network, and in terms of FaceTime communication have nothing to do with your cellular carrier. Placing a FaceTime call from one device to another travels entirely over your local Wi-Fi connection—the phone number is merely used as a means of looking up the other device on Apple’s servers.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Apple releases tvOS 10.1.1, watchOS 3.1.3
- Apple releases iOS 10.2.1
- Foxconn considering $7B investment in ‘highly automated’ U.S. facility for Apple
- KGI: 3D Touch upgrade coming in new iPhone, Touch ID and facial recognition upgrades in future model
- Apple files lawsuit accusing Qualcomm of withholding patent royalties
- Apple releases updated iOS Developer Design Resources
- Apple’s exclusive audiobook deal with Audible ends in Europe following EU antitrust scrutiny
- Nintendo officially announces Fire Emblem Heroes for iOS, coming Feb. 2
- Rumor: Apple working on second-generation Apple Pencil
- GarageBand 2.2 adds Logic Pro X integration, Alchemy synth, Multi-Take Recording
- Revogi Smart Lightbulb, Smart Lightstrip, Smart Candle + Smart Meter Plug
- Audeze iSine10 In-Ear Headphones
- MOCACARE MOCACuff Connected Blood Pressure Monitor
- Apple AirPods
- Elgato Eve Motion
- Olloclip Core Lens Set for iPhone 7/7 Plus
- Logitech Pop Home Switch Starter Pack
- Elgato Eve Light Switch
- iHome iPLWBT5 Docking Clock Radio for iPhone and Apple Watch
- Brydge 12.9 iPad Pro Keyboard
- Top Five: The Best Products for Building a Smart Home with HomeKit
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of watchOS 3
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 10
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 10
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10