Today AT&T released the news that it will permit the use of VOIP (Voice Over IP) programs to utilize its 3G network via the iPhone. Previously, applications such as Skype and Google Voice were limited to WiFi-only and not permitted to use the 3G data network. This decision comes at an important time when AT&T and other carriers are being scrutinized by the Federal Communications Commission for control they exert over devices and applications allowed on their networks.
AT&T relayed concerns to the FCC in August, that iPhone users placing voice calls over its data network would significantly decrease customer revenues, resulting in the cost being passed onto consumers in the form of higher priced iPhones.
Apple and the FCC also issued laudatory statements about the decision and Apple will amend its agreements to include VOIP calls.
From a consumer standpoint, this is an important decision as customers will be able to use the “unlimited data” portion of their plans without voice calls eating into their own minutes.
Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T’s mobility and consumer markets division, stated: “Today’s decision was made after evaluating our customers’ expectations and use of the device compared to dozens of others we offer.” AT&T spokesman Michael Balmoris said that the decision was in progress for several months and had little to do with the heightened scrutiny into AT&T’s practices.