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 ‘working rapidly’ to extend Apple Pay to more countries
- Report: Apple’s Siri-based Amazon Echo competitor will be a new Apple TV
- Report: Apple SVP Eddy Cue proposed bid to buy Time Warner
- Beta testing for Pokémon GO begins in the U.S.
- Apple’s plan to open stores in India hits a snag (Update: India’s finance minister ratifies ruling)
- Apple looking into charging stations for electric cars
- Apple hires hint at improvements in encryption, health monitoring
- Hyundai adds CarPlay support to more vehicles
- Plaintiffs file new motion to keep ‘Error 53’ Touch ID lawsuit alive
- Report: Apple developing Siri home speaker to rival Amazon’s Echo; will release Siri SDK at WWDC
- OtterBox Symmetry Series Hybrid Case for 12.9” iPad Pro
- Logitech Logi BASE Charging Stand for iPad Pro
- Twelve South TimePorter for Apple Watch
- August Doorbell Cam
- August Smart Lock HomeKit enabled + Smart Keypad
- ecobee3 HomeKit-enabled smart Wi-Fi thermostat
- Zagg Now Cam
- Yantouch EyE Portable Wireless Speaker
- Netatmo Wind Gauge
- Incipio Stashback for iPhone 6/6s
- Filling the Gap: A look at third-party HomeKit apps
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 9.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.3
- Opinion: Why Apple needs a dedicated HomeKit app
- Inside the betas: What’s new in iOS 9.3 and tvOS 9.2 (Updated)
- Life with HomeKit: Our experiences with Apple’s home automation system
- Under the Radar: 10 ‘hidden’ details about the new Apple TV
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.0
- Under the Radar: A closer look at smaller iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus changes
- A First Look at iOS 9’s Transit in Apple Maps (Updated for watchOS 2)