In a concession to consumers, US network operator AT&T said last night it would allow Apple iPhone users to make voice over internet (VoIP) calls such as Skype on its mobile phone network.
AT&T had banned VoIP calls, fearing the loss of revenue and the impact of much higher data flows on the network.
Previously, VoIP applications on iPhone were enabled for Wi-Fi connectivity, AT&T said. AT&T had offered other wireless devices that ran VoIP applications on its wireless networks.
In late summer, the company said it was taking a fresh look at VoIP capabilities on iPhone for use on its 3G network. This was part of its regular market review, it said.
AT&T's head of mobility & consumer markets Ralph de la Vega said, "Today's decision was made after evaluating our customers' expectations and use of the device compared to dozens of others we offer."
The move is expected to put pressure on other mobile and fixed network operators to allow unrestricted VoIP calls. Many do, but limit bandwidth, degrading the user experience.
Most network operators charge more for data than voice calls, so AT&T could be betting that it will make more money if iPhone users use more VoIP applications, especially for video.