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AT&T does the unthinkable and ungimps the iPhone

When it comes to VoIP on the iPhone, both Apple and AT&T have been quite restrictive with regards to what is made available to customers. Customers wishing to use VoIP programs like Skype on the iPhone have been relegated to using Wi-Fi instead of streaming data over AT&T's already fragile 3G network.

Perhaps the biggest battle came with the rejection of Google Voice. Apple flatly rejected the application citing that it would cause confusion with the existing phone features on the iPhone. Many people, however, believed that the snub came down directly from AT&T.

The block of cellular VoIP on the iPhone infuriated many considering that Blackberry devices running on AT&T networks have had access to such applications (including Google Voice). AT&T today even acknowledged the artificial iPhone blocks; "For some time, AT&T has offered a variety of other wireless devices that enable VoIP applications on 3G, 2G and Wi-Fi networks."

However, AT&T is looking to right its wrongs and has announced that VoIP traffic over 3G will be opened up for the iPhone. “IPhone is an innovative device that dramatically changed the game in wireless when it was introduced just two years ago,” said AT&T's Ralph de la Vega. “Today’s decision was made after evaluating our customers’ expectations and use of the device compared to dozens of others we offer.”

AT&T says that it has informed both Apple and the FCC of the change, so hopefully VoIP apps will begin to flow from the iTunes App Store. And hopefully, Google Voice may soon find it way to iPhone users.

Updated 10/6/2009
The president of Skype has just released a statement regarding AT&T's decision:

Since launching our iPhone application six months ago, people have downloaded and installed Skype on 10% of all iPhone and iPod touch devices sold - making it clear that people are extremely interested in taking Skype conversations with them on the go.

All of us at Skype applaud today's announcement by AT&T that it'll open up its 3G network to Internet calling applications such as Skype. It's the right step for AT&T, Apple, millions of mobile Skype users and the Internet itself.

Nonetheless, the positive actions of one company are no substitute for a government policy that protects openness and benefits consumers. We're all looking forward to further developments that will let people use Skype on any device, on any network.

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Wait a moment...
By chruschef on 10/6/2009 7:36:32 PM , Rating: 2
Did the president of skype just say that they're looking for a government policy to mandate the ability to use skype on all mobile devices?

that's ridiculous, they didnt create the iPhone and therefore have no right to say what they can and cannot do on the iPhone. That same policy goes for Google to, but as usual they knew that messing with google probably wasn't a fantastic idea.

... the one group of people Apple(and all companies) should really be accountable to are the consumers. i can pretty much guaranty that apple would let people use VoIP on their phones if consumers made a lot of "noise" about it.

RE: Wait a moment...
By SiliconAddict on 10/6/09, Rating: 0
RE: Wait a moment...
By leonowski on 10/6/2009 8:29:11 PM , Rating: 3
No. The President of Skype is implying that the policy of network neutrality is important to their business. I don't read anything in there that implies any more than that.

The issue at hand doesn't involve Apple. Skype has been running on iPhones for months now. The issue is with AT&T restricting usage of an Internet application over their 3G network. AT&T didn't create the Internet. So, they have no right to say what applications can run over the Internet. This is analogous to your argument about Skype/Google not inventing the iPhone. The issue here is with the network when it connects your device and application to the Internet, not the device itself.

Obviously, there are still hurdles to get Skype and other VoIP applications from working on any device. A government network neutrality policy will not punish a mobile device manufacturer because it doesn't have a microphone for VoIP. Again - remember that this is about what a device is allowed to do once it gets on the Internet.

Consumers ARE pushing for Network Neutrality as the policy favors the consumer.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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