AT&T Allows VoIP iPhone Apps to Work Over 3G Network

AT&T connectivity is just 70% in NYC

As you might know, until now AT&T had restricted iPhone apps like Skype, Vonage (which was released yesterday) to work only over Wi-Fi and not over the 3G mobile network as they had concerns that such apps could cause significant network congestion.

That's History! AT&T has just announced that they will allow VoIP iPhone apps to work over its wireless network.

AT&T has announced:

In late summer, AT&T said it was taking a fresh look at VoIP capabilities on iPhone for use on AT&T’s 3G network, consistent with its regular review of device features and capabilities to ensure attractive options for consumers.

“iPhone is an innovative device that dramatically changed the game in wireless when it was introduced just two years ago,” said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobility & Consumer Markets. “Today’s decision was made after evaluating our customers’ expectations and use of the device compared to dozens of others we offer.”

AT&T’s decision to start allowing VoIP iPhone apps seems to be a direct outcome of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigation of the rejection of Google Voice iPhone app where it was interested in AT&T's role in the decision-making process. AT&T had categorically stated that they had no role in any decision by Apple to not accept the Google Voice application. But they had informed FCC that they would evaluate the option of allowing VoIP iPhone apps to use AT&T’s 3G network.

Skype CEO Josh Silverman who has been on a mission to make sure his company's VoIP mobile application works over 3G is extremely pleased with AT&T’s decision. He writes on Skype’s blog:

“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 (in an FCC filing to be published shortly) 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.”

Let’s hope other carriers around the world follow AT&T’s footsteps and allow mobile VoIP applications to work over their wireless networks.

Since the last few months AT&T has definitely been making the right moves, first by announcing the steps they are taking to improve their network, then finally releasing MMS feature to its iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS customers and now leading the way by allowing VoIP iPhone apps to work over their 3G mobile network.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

[via AT&T, Skype]

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