FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski late Tuesday praised AT&T for its decision to open its 3G wireless network to VoIP iPhone applications.
That announcement came on the eve of the chairman's speech to CTIA, the wireless association, where he is expected to talk about his plans to apply open Internet standards to wireless broadband.
"I commend AT&T's decision to open its network to VoIP. Opening wireless services to greater consumer choice will drive investment and innovation in the mobile marketplace," Genachowski said in a statement.
"AT&T...has taken the steps necessary so that Apple can enable VoIP applications on iPhone to run on AT&T's wireless network," the company said on its Web site. "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."
In response to a letter from the FCC asking for information following reports that Apple had pulled the Google Voice application for the iPhone from the store, AT&T had told the commission that the company had an agreement with Apple that the latter would not affirmatively enable VoIP service over iPhones. AT&T said that one of the assumptions that went into taking the risk of developing the phone was the monthly service revenues that could be reduced by enabling VoIP functionality.
But AT&T in that same letter had said it would take a second look at VOiP on iPhones as part of its "regular review" of device features, and said it made its decision "after evaluating our customers' expectations and use of the device compared to dozens of others we offer."