While Verizon Wireless may have been the first carrier out of the gates with a major announcement leading up to CTIA in San Diego, AT&T Mobility didn’t wait long to throw its hat into the ring. Just hours after Verizon Wireless announced some bold plans for a new partnership with Google – one directly aimed at Apple and AT&T nonetheless, AT&T said that it will no longer prevent VoIP apps from running on its network, the The Wall Street Journal reports. Apps that were previously stripped-down to appease AT&T’s wishes can now be made to actually do what they were first intended to: make voice calls over the Internet. AT&T’s about-face on the issue will surely leave many iPhone users hoping for better apps from VoIP providers like Skype, however AT&T’s decision alone doesn’t not guarantee that Google Voice will ever have its day as an app on the iPhone. Apple has already admitted that it chose not to approve the Google Voice application on its App Store for its own reasons.
The shift from AT&T is really more of a shuffle though. VoIP apps have worked perfectly fine on plenty of smartphones on AT&T’s network, it’s mostly been iPhone users who have been blocked from accessing VoIP on a grand scale. AT&T’s decision comes after the Federal Communications Commission launched an investigation into the Google Voice affair earlier this summer. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski applauded AT&T’s move today. Considering all the horrible press and public commentary AT&T has suffered through as it tries to keep network capacity up with growing demand, it’s a shock AT&T didn’t give in on the VoIP issue sooner. Sure, AT&T could stand to lose some voice and data revenues as a result, but it also stands to free up some bandwidth in the process.