AT&T to Allow Telephony Apps on 3G Network
It has taken far too long, but AT&T has finally warmed to the the idea of voice-over-Internet services on its wireless network. On Tuesday afternoon, the carrier opened its 3G network to telephony apps, ending a restriction that had limited them to Wi-Fi. The change means that iPhone users can now use Skype and, presumably, Google Voice–if Apple (AAPL) ever approves it–on AT&T’s (T) network.
“iPhone is an innovative device that dramatically changed the game in wireless when it was introduced just two years ago,” AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets chief Ralph de la Vega 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.”
It was also doubtless made after evaluating Verizon’s (VZ) announcement this morning that it will begin offering phones running Google’s (GOOG) Android OS and its Google Voice app in a matter of weeks. I’m sure that Federal Communications Commission investigation was “evaluated” as well.
Anyway, good news for consumers–assuming AT&T’s network can handle the additional strain, which is anything but a sure thing at this point.
UPDATE: The VoIP community was quick to congratulate AT&T for the move. “All of us at Skype applaud today’s announcement by AT&T (in an FCC filing to be published shortly) that it’ll open up its 3G network to Internet calling applications such as Skype,” Skype CEO Josh Silverman wrote in a post to the company blog. “It’s the right step for AT&T, Apple, millions of mobile Skype users and the Internet itself. Nonetheless, the positive actions of one company are no substitute for a government policy that protects openness and benefits consumers. We’re all looking forward to further developments that will let people use Skype on any device, on any network.”