FCC Actions Pushed AT&T to Stop VoIP Blocking

Contact Info: 
Moira Vahey, Free Press, (202) 265-1490 x31

WASHINGTON -- AT&T announced Tuesday that it will stop restricting iPhone applications on its 3G wireless network that use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). AT&T's blocking of VoIP was exposed in August by a Federal Communications Commission inquiry into why iPhone users on AT&T's network were denied access to the Google Voice application.

As a result of the FCC's questioning, both AT&T and Apple disclosed a contractual agreement between the companies that required AT&T's consent for any VoIP applications on the iPhone. AT&T had previously claimed that it "does not manage or approve applications" for Apple's App Store.

The announcement from AT&T also follows FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's recent call for stronger Network Neutrality rules that would apply to all technologies -- including mobile phones.

S. Derek Turner, research director of Free Press, made the following statement:

"The FCC's oversight and forward thinking has prompted AT&T to halt their anti-competitive practices. After more than two years of blocking VoIP applications, the FCC has succeeded in getting AT&T to open their network to the applications consumers want.

"We commend the agency and are pleased that consumers will now finally have access to more applications like Skype. But the FCC should not be distracted or delayed in efforts to protect Net Neutrality on all networks, to investigate the exclusive contracts that punish consumers, and to promote a truly competitive wireless market.

"The arm-twisting that led to AT&T's belated announcement is a critical reminder of why we need the FCC walking the beat to protect consumers."

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