AT&T To Allow VoIP Calls On iPhone Over 3G

US network operator AT&T has made significant changes in its policy and confirmed that it would now let Apple iPhone users to make voice over internet protocol (VoIP) calls using various popular services including Skype and Vonage, on its network.

Initially, AT&T had prohibited the proposed iPhone internet telephony applications from its networks, claiming that the cheaper calls would belittle the network operator’s efforts on subsidising iPhone costs for its users.

AT&T said it has already informed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Apple of its decision of allowing VoIP applications on its networks.

Incidentally, the FCC launched a probe into Apple’s decision of rejecting the use of Skype on AT&T’s 3G networks, with the network operator admitted to being behind that crucial decision.

Ralph de la Vega, AT&T’s chief of mobility and consumer markets, said in a statement, "Today's decision was made after evaluating our customers' expectations and use of the device compared to dozens of others we offer".

The news paves the way for other services like Google’s Voice app as well as the other third party apps to run on the blockbuster iPhone.

The move would presumably put pressure on other network operators to enable unlimited voice calls from their networks (ed: and also offer cheaper international calls).

Although most of the operators do offer VoIP services, they tend to limit bandwidth and spoil users experience to a great extent.

Our Comments

We don't know whether AT&T decision was due to pressure from the FCC or Apple or both. One thing is sure, AT&T is unlikely to have allowed VoIP on its network by its own since there's no financial benefit from doing so. Actually, VoIP is a resource hogging (and therefore expensive) feature. Will O2 follow suit?

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(Financial Times)