AT&T announced Tuesday that it had "taken steps" to allow Apple to enable Voice-over-IP applications to work on its data networks on the iPhone. This means that applications like Skype will be able to send and receive voice calls through the iPhone across the data network, as opposed to just when the device was on a WiFi network, which had previously been the case.
The company acknowledged that it allowed VoIP with other devices it sold, and said the move to remove restrictions on the iPhone was part of a "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," Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobility & 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."
This means that the iPhone will now match Research in Motion's BlackBerry and other smartphones that have long been able to make VoIP calls. Today's announcement means that Apple can enable the feature, which will then allow developers like Skype to update their own iPhone apps to take advantage of the feature.
In other words, it will take at least a few days, if not longer, before data-network-enabled VoIP apps actually hit the App Store.