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AT&T Allows iPhone To Make Internet Calls On Cell Network

AT&T said Tuesday it would open its 3G wireless network to Internet voice applications on the iPhone, including Skype. The move comes as the nation's second largest wireless operator has been pushing back against proposed net neutrality rules at the Federal Communications Commission.

Skype and other Internet voice applications could operate on the iPhone through WiFi access. But AT&T had denied service for such applications on its cellular networks.

"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, chief executive of 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."

The move was significant ahead of a controversial proposal at the FCC that would codify and broaden rules for how Internet service providers, including wireless carriers, can decide what kinds of applications and content are allowed on their networks. The rules would effectively prevent the carriers from acting as gatekeepers of legal content and services.

AT&T said in a release that it informed the FCC and Apple of its decision. The company said Voice over Internet services have been available on other phones its operates, but hadn't been on the iPhone. When asked about whether Google Voice, a calling service, would be included, a spokesman said the decision to include or exclude the application was up to Apple. There is also debate on whether the service, which aggregates and connects calls, is a voice-over-Internet-protocol application.

Skype, which has rallied for net neutrality rules, hailed the announcement. But the company said even with the move, the FCC should move forward on stronger Internet access protections.

"It is the right step for AT&T, Apple, millions of mobile Skypers and the Internet itself," said Josh Silver, CEO of Skype. "Nonetheless, the positive actions of one company are no substitute for a government policy that protects openness and benefits consumers and we look forward to further innovations that will enable even more mobile Skype calling."


By Cecilia Kang  |  October 6, 2009; 4:27 PM ET
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Next: FCC Chair Expected To Give AT&T Props, But Push Forward On Net Neutrality


Why would anyone want to use SKYPE on a device that is ALREADY a phone?

Posted by: red4ever2 | October 6, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

international calls come to mind...

Posted by: impg2 | October 6, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Red4Ever2 Ditto When I read that, I thought, huh? You'd be paying twice for the same phone call.

Posted by: ripvanwinkleincollege | October 6, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

@red4ever2 - skype and other voip apps would run over the 3g network as data, and would not use your wireless plan's minutes. international calls are another good reason.

Posted by: former-dc-resident | October 6, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

When I first read this, I got excited. More flexibility and freedom in the use of my iPhone! Then the reality set in that, with even more data streaming over AT&T's network, it will mean even MORE dropped called, interference, etc. I LOVE my iPhone. Love it. It's the greatest device that I can possible imagine and it keeps getting better. The one and only downside of the iPhone, however, is AT&T. WORST. PROVIDER. EVER.

Posted by: dan_of_dc | October 6, 2009 6:23 PM | Report abuse

AT&T hired a third party a few years ago to "slam" my company - that's switching your long distance carrier without your permission. Because AT&T is in every politicians pocket, the FCC actually allows the slamming without proper consumer recourse. On top of that, AT&T allowed illegal wiretaps under Bush, then again due to heavy political contributions got Congress to OK the illegal wiretaps after the fact. I know different entities have owned the AT&T name, but whatever they're all dirty scum dogs. #$@W AT&T - as other posters have pointed out it's all bovine waste product. BOYCOTT AT&T!!! If you own the stock SELL AT&T - I hear Quest supports your Constitutional rights and therefore deserves your hard earned American dollars.

Posted by: GarrisonLiberty | October 6, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

AT&T is like a cockroch. It does any damned thing it wants to until the light is shone on it and then it does the obvious correct thing: they supplies pipes to users, nothing more.

Posted by: Skeptic1 | October 6, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

The big question is: when will this change take effect? Personally, I've always had good service with AT&T. They really offer more of what I want than anyone else. I'm happy to support them.


Posted by: hlef | October 6, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

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