What AT&T Allowing VoIP over 3G Means for Google Voice, SlingPlayer

What does AT&T's announcement today, regarding a change of policy to allow VoIP applications like Skype to operate over the 3G network mean for Google Voice in the App Store and SlingPlayer over 3G?


Not to rain on our many commenters and emailers parades, but AT&T's VoIP policy has nothing to do with either of those apps because:

  1. Google Voice was rejected/is still under review by Apple, not by AT&T. All parties have clearly stated AT&T has played and is playing absolutely no roll in keeping Google Voice out of the App Store. That ball is still firmly in Apple's court, and it will take movement from them, and them alone, to bring it to the App Store when -- and if -- they decide to pull the trigger.

  2. SlingPlayer sends your home TV video over 3G, and clearly has nothing to do with VoIP. AT&T has a distinct and separate policy forbidding the use of apps like SlingPlayer on their 3G network. Unless and until AT&T changes that second, specific policy as well, no SlingPlayer over 3G for you. (And seriously, given AT&T is dropping 30% of calls in NYC as well, does anyone think their network could survive even more traffic at this point?)

So there you go. You're getting VoIP from AT&T and Apple, no more, no less. Scratch that off the list, and if they've given an inch, and you hunger for a mile, keep the armor on and re-focus your battle on the next two (or more) targets.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

What AT&T Allowing VoIP over 3G Means for Google Voice, SlingPlayer


so why do they let ORB and EyeTV stream live TV (redirect) and not SLingPlayer....makes no sense

what is needed is a clear, consistent policy. probably something like an absolute bandwidth cap.
if slingplayer can operate under such a cap in the same way a VOIP app can, then it should be allowed on the network.
if it cannot operate as efficiently as a VOIP app, than it should not.
google voice rejection has nothing to do with AT&T so it makes sense that this would not change that decision on apple's part.

I use google voice and Skype. I don't see how google voice "doubles functionality" any more than skype does. Seems a random decision on Apple, and I really hope they reconsider.

WashPost seems to thing that Both this announcement and Verizon's announcement about adding Android phones were triggered by the FCC's investigation.:

Verizon Wireless, meanwhile, said it was teaming with Google to produce new cellphones based on Google's Android software. The phones would be open for any applications, including Google Voice, a phone service that is blocked by Apple on its iPhone.

Both carriers deny this, but I tend to agree that the federal scrutiny had something to do with it.
ATT had to have had this plan in mind when they said weeks ago they were re-evaluating Voip. I bet Verizon adding Android phones and stating they would allow any and all apps on the phone pushed ATT over the edge.
While the nearly 10,000 andriod apps available from a multitude of different sources can't hold a candle to 85,000 apps in the iTunes App store, its a good start, and probably one ATT can't ignore.


(And seriously, given AT&T is dropping 30% of calls in NYC as well, does anyone think their network could survive even more traffic at this point?)

First: Slingplayer sends your TV via wifi, not 3G.
Second: you have exactly ONE anonymous source for that 30% number yet you have adopted it as if it were the truth. Whats up with that? Don't you suppose there would be riot police beating back the angry mobs circling every ATT store in NYC if that were really true?

What was the result of the FCC investigation, anyway? Aside from a lot of press, was there any government action? Could there be?
I think the only follow up I have heard about is regarding Republican opposition to plans for legislating net neutrality (Sorry, I don't have a reference to link). No doubt, US carriers are lobbying to slow this down...on an alleged threat of decreased market viability...
Regardless, all of this does not change the seemingly arbitrary decision regarding Google Voice.

The whole first point is moot anyway because Google Voice isn't VOIP. Can people please start to understand that fact?

@icebike: Sorry, my facetiousness doesn't properly translate to text at times :-/
@Ben: No one is saying Google Voice is VoIP, we're saying it's still not in the App Store and that has nothing to do with AT&T...

AT&T allows 3G access to Slingbox for their Blackberry devices.... On the same network, while not allowing for the iPhone to have it. It's total BS....

Wow. You guys are enthusiast and do not know about #G Unrestrictor? I have been using Skype to call over "Edge", because I have T-mobile, for several months
The ONLY thing I need now is Push skype calls. When they do that, I will turn off my cell service. That is why they are making a big deal of this.
We are talking BILLIONS of dollars that could be effected if Google Voice And Skype is added to the AppStore. GV and Skype push will follow and AT&T will loose 5-15% in revenue within 1 year.

It is silly since I can tether my laptop and get a much better Slingplayer experience. The only thing I ever use slingplayer for is setting the PVR to record a show I forgot or didn't know about.

BUT Sling Player DOES use VoIP -- VIDEO OVER IP! It just uses even more bandwidth than Voice over IP. Point is, AT&T doesn't want to allow many apps that use continuous data streams that could bog down their towers. AT&T is a dinosaur!

I second what was added a couple post above. Where is it in AT&T's policy that it states slingplayer is NOT allowed across the board over 3g? WinMo and Blackberry can run this natively (without pwning of any kind) and yet it is their policy that alienates 1/4 of the customer base? It appears AT&T policy is hipocritical!!! I am jailbroken and use 3g unrestrictor without a hitch! But I don't want to! Practice what you preach AT&T. And maybe more of your customers will too. I know why AT&T shafts the iPhone clientele, because we'll take it!! Because the winmo, blackberry devices are to hard to police. Having to track down individual customers, similar to peer-to-peer sharing. Yet 90% of iPhone customers all come drink from the community well, iTunes. And then.... Zap!! Rules enforced! Someday AT&T this will bite you in the.....

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