AT&T Removes Roadblock for VoIP on iPhone

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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.

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Bryan Chaffin

It’s great to see these little improvements - in this case an artificial roadblock being removed that had previously kept the iPhone from offering a feature found on other devices - coming to the iPhone.



Dave Hamilton

I’m sure the bruhaha with the FCC at least triggered a revisiting of this issue by AT&T (if not forced it entirely). Regardless of how or why, I’m happy it’s happening.

That said, it’s one more step towards homogenizing cell carriers’ data offerings, making them more like other broadband companies in terms of what they can and can’t do. That’s good for us consumers, Google, Apple, Skype, and just about everyone… except the data providers. But hey, they had to have seen this coming, right? wink


I don’t get the sweat over VoIP. With no charge for long distance calls on m,y cell plan, I have not used my Skype account in several years. When I used to travel overseas a lot I used Skype all the time to call home and the office. But, if you are on the cell network in Europe with your iPhone and use VoIP to call home, the data charge will wipe out any savings. VoIP and MMS are two features I will never use on my iPhone.

Dave Hamilton

I’m with Banjo on the *current* use of this. I think the decision is (as I stated) more important in terms of “data neutrality” than it is actual current benefit. I’ve used VOIP over 3G/EVDO/etc—it’s iffy at best. The wireless data networks aren’t really built to carry streamed stuff like this. That may change down the road, but it may also lead to increases data plan charges as wireless carriers beef up their infrastructure in that regard.

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