Print 27 comment(s) - last by HrilL.. on Oct 7 at 5:49 PM

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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By Targon on 10/7/2009 6:50:10 AM , Rating: 2
The US Telephone system was heavily invested in by the US government when it was being deployed. As a result of this action, it makes sense that the phone lines SHOULD be opened up. The problem I have with the idea of forcing ISPs to open their lines for just ANYTHING is that when a company has to pay for infrastructure themselves, to a large extent they SHOULD have the right to disallow uses that would undermine their ability to make money off what they have to pay to maintain.

Has the government put money into the cell networks of AT&T, Verizon, or even cable lines? If the government has not been active in the deployment of services or in helping pay for the maintenance of said services, the government should NOT be saying what companies can or can not do with their equipment/services. People may feel this is not fair, but seriously, has GOOGLE, or Skype, or Vonage, or any other VOIP provider paid any money or will they pay money to let their product work on the equipment that has been fully paid for by a competing product?

The cellular environment HAS competition when it comes to phone service, so companies offering VOIP service(a direct competition) should be paying the carriers. Basically, I shouldn't lose money because someone decided they wanted to offer THEIR competing services using MY equipment. If you feel that Google, Skype, Vonage, or whoever should have open use of the cellular networks of private companies, then the government should be paying a HUGE percentage of the maintenance fees, or be paying for new massive rollouts of 3G, 4G, and 5G services to level the playing field between carriers.

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