Holy keee-rist. The apocalypse approaches, because AT&T has opened their network up to VoIP applications running over the air on the iPhone. In other words, AT&T is now totally cool with using Skype over 3G.
AT&T supposedly just told Apple and the FCC this afternoon that their network is ready for VoIP over 3G for the iPhone, meaning it might take a bit to show up in apps, but the floodgates are open now. And yeah, whoa. Skype over 3G has been okay on other phones that weren't the iPhone before this, but AT&T's now "taken the steps necessary so that Apple can enable VoIP applications on iPhone to run on AT&T's wireless network." Since there's no cap on iPhone data—and AT&T says it's still unlimited with VoIP—that means you can get the cheapest possible voice plan and talk as much as you want through VoIP apps like Skype.
We wouldn't be totally surprised if AT&T suddenly discovering their network is ready for VoIP over 3G is at least partially motivated by the FCC's recent crowing about net neutrality—even for mobile providers—and in reaction to the FCC's investigation as to what exactly when down between AT&T, Apple and Google with Google Voice. This is AT&T showing Mr. FCC that they play nice and fair, and pretty please, don't drop some government regulation on their head, like mandated neutrality. It also makes them look better as they point the finger at Google Voice for not following net neutrality conventions.
A couple of points to add: This is specifically about VoIP (very likely because of the FCC's Google Voice curiosities), so there's nothing to fapfapfap about on the SlingPlayer or tethering front. While Skype is the most immediate woohoo context that comes to mind, we're actually more interested now in the possibility of an app that is even more targeted to letting you get over on AT&T and replace your voice minutes with data for phone calls.
Whatever the cause or motivations, we're just glad to see it happen, finally. Now we've just gotta wait for the apps to catch up.
AT&T EXTENDS VOIP TO 3G NETWORK FOR IPHONE
DALLAS, October 6, 2009 - 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."
AT&T allows customers to download or launch on their wireless devices a multitude of compatible applications directly from any lawful Internet website. Additionally, because AT&T uses GSM technology, the most pervasive and open wireless technology platform in the world, we support customers using any GSM phone that works on AT&T's frequencies.
*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.