It seems something good is coming out of the whole Google Voice issue. In response to the FCC’s call for more openness, AT&T has finally relented and will allow voice over IP applications to make it on iPhone. So applications such as Skype should have no problem working on our phones:
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… “Today’s decision was made after evaluating our customers’ expectations and use of the device compared to dozens of others we offer.”
You could almost feel AT&T’s pain in those words. The company has simply felt the pressure from the FCC and instead of choosing a door that could lead to more concessions, AT&T has decided to give its customers what they have always wanted and make the FCC and the open network advocates happy for the short-run.
AT&T and Apple are not out of the woods yet. They can always deny any wrongdoing and come up with all kinds of excuses why Google Voice and other similar apps have been rejected. But the Pandora’s box seems to have been opened. Both companies are in damage control mode at this point. Considering that Apple is still “studying” Google Voice (after rejecting it first), you can tell both companies are feeling the pressure from every direction.
Whether Apple and AT&T had a secret agreement to reject VoIP apps or rejected Google Voice by mistake, this latest move by AT&T should give the company some breathing room. But more concessions are still likely. Will all these moves lead to AT&T locking up another exclusive iPhone agreement with Apple is another story.