AT&T to Allow Skype and Google Voice to Operate on Its Mobile Network? [Update: Confirmed]

The Washington Post reports that AT&T may be planning to announce support for Skype, Google Voice, and other related Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services over its mobile networks, including via Apple's iPhone.

One source close to the thinking of AT&T executives said the company has been deliberating the decision for weeks and that top executives have said they were close to accepting voice over Internet services on all AT&T phones, including the iPhone. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because a decision hadn't been officially announced. Skype currently operates on the iPhone through WiFi access, but not on AT&T's 3G mobile network.

Apple reportedly rejected a Google Voice iPhone application in late July, sparking an inquiry into the situation from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In its response to the FCC, Apple claimed that it had not formally rejected the application and was still reviewing it, but Google's response painted a very different picture, claiming that Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller had directly delivered the rejection notice to a Google executive via telephone.

For its part, AT&T noted that it played no role in the specific Google Voice iPhone application review process, although the company's agreement with Apple does reportedly require that it provide permission for any iPhone functionality to originate or terminate a VoIP connection on its network.

Update: AT&T has confirmed that it has notified Apple and the FCC that it will permit VoIP functionality on the iPhone over its 3G network.

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. For some time, AT&T has offered a variety of other wireless devices that enable VoIP applications on 3G, 2G and Wi-Fi networks. AT&T this afternoon informed Apple Inc. and the FCC of its decision.

The announcement covers traditional VoIP services and does not address the issue of Google Voice, which is not strictly a VoIP service, although it provides some functionalities similar to VoIP. But it remains unclear whether AT&T has ever actually opposed Google Voice on the iPhone, as the company claimed that it played no role in the application review process.

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