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IPhone Users, Start Your Internet Phone Calls

AT&T Wireless backed down on one of its more puzzling restrictions on the iPhone yesterday, saying that it would allow users of Apple's popular smartphone (perhaps you've heard of it?) to make Internet phone calls on its own airwaves and not just on WiFi connections.

To judge from the Dallas-based carrier's past rhetoric, you might have expected such a move to lead to the imminent meltdown of its network.

But while AT&T's restrictions on "VoIP" (Voice Over Internet Protocol) calling on its flagship device might have kept some traffic off its network, that policy was eating up its political bandwidth. The company's reversal came only weeks after the Federal Communications Commission had asked it to explain its conduct, and only days after the FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski had outlined plans to impose "net neutrality" regulations banning this kind of restriction.

AT&T's move represents a welcome break to its weird practice of subjecting its flagship phone to limitations not enforced on other, lesser models it sells.

More important, easy access to VoIP software and services such as Skype (which was predictably enthused about the news) makes the extortionate international long-distance calling rates of AT&T and other wireless carriers look even more untenable in the long run. Why would you ever pay $1.49 a minute to call your relatives in Ireland directly from an AT&T phone when Skype charges 2.4 cents a minute?

What's your take on AT&T's decision to answer VoIP's call? If you have an iPhone, how soon will you put a VoIP application on it?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  October 7, 2009; 8:53 AM ET
Categories:  Policy and politics , Telecom  
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No question it's good . . .

I wonder how long until the demise of actual voice network usage.

Now for the stupid text-messaging charges for using the same data network I'm already paying $30/month for.

Posted by: ah___ | October 7, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

"AT&T Wireless backed down on one of its more puzzling restrictions on the iPhone yesterday..."

I really don't see what's so "puzzling" about their motivations and actions. It basically poses a major financial threat. It's essentially opening a phone within a phone.

Posted by: cleo7 | October 7, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Small potatoes my friend I am still awaiting the day when like users everywhere else in the world we only get charged for outgoing calls. The rip off continues! N. American carriers continue to rape us with inflated data charges for text messaging which most users in Europe/Africa get practically for free! My brother lived in S.Africa for 3 yrs and during that time could receive incomming calls one year after his pay as you go phone ran out. He just couldn't call that's what I am talking about! It's time to expose this double billing scam!

Posted by: roadrunners911 | October 8, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

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