News: AT&T Lifts VoIP “Ban” on iPhone

Posted on October 6, 2009

Things got a bit more interesting, folks. Earlier today, AT&T announced that it will allow voice over IP (VoIP) calls over its 3G data network on all handsets, including the iPhone. This will most likely reverse some limits put on apps, such as Skype.

AT&T today announced it has taken the steps necessary so that Apple can enable VoIP applications on iPhone to run on AT&T’s wireless network. Previously, VoIP applications on iPhone were enabled for Wi-Fi connectivity. For some time, AT&T has offered a variety of other wireless devices that enable VoIP applications on 3G, 2G and Wi-Fi networks. AT&T this afternoon informed Apple Inc. and the FCC of its decision.

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.”

Earlier today in the Washington Post, it didn’t seem like this happened overnight:

One source close to the thinking of AT&T executives said the company has been deliberating the decision for weeks and that top executives have said they were close to accepting voice over Internet services on all AT&T phones, including the iPhone. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because a decision hadn’t been officially announced. Skype currently operates on the iPhone through WiFi access, but not on AT&T’s 3G mobile network.

Meanwhile, AT&T still passed on the “blame” to Apple in that same Washington Post article:

AT&T has declined to comment on the rumors. It says it was Apple’s decision to deny or permit applications like Google Voice and other VOIP providers on the iPhone. VOIP applications run on other phones on AT&T’s 3G network, but not the iPhone. Apple has said in a letter to the FCC that it hasn’t blocked Google Voice or other voice services, saying it is still in the process of evaluating those applications on the iPhone. Google, meanwhile, in its own letters to the FCC says Apple executives flatly informed Google they would block Google Voice. Skype also said its service has been blocked from the iPhone.

Although many do include Google Voice when talking about VoIP on the iPhone, it technically is not, so that may need to be tied to another decision.

This post has been filed in News