AT&T and Apple must have finally decided to allow VoIP calls over the 3G network. The big news was revealed in the new iPhone SDK released by Apple yesterday. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) makes it possible to use services like Skype to make voice calls using the Internet, avoiding the use of cellular calling plan minutes.
AT&T has restricted VoIP applications on the iPhone to Wi-Fi only in the recent past. Now developers are free to make applications that use the 3G cellular data network to make the same calls. Reports have speculated that FCC pressure over net neutrality issues may have prompted the change in policy.
It's not clear when this change will take effect, as the latest iPhone OS (3.2) will only run on the iPad hardware. Apple has not made any announcements regarding an update to the iPhone firmware. The latest version running on the iPhone is 3.1.2.
Regardless of this fact the developers for iCall, a VoIP app for the iPhone, issued a release stating they have already made the first iPhone app with the ability to place VoIP calls over 3G.iCall CEO Arlo Gilbert wrote that he applauds "Apple's decision to allow iCall to extend its functionality beyond Wi-Fi and onto the 3G networks. This heralds a new era for VoIP applications on mobile platforms, especially for iCall and our free calling model. I hope that now more developers will begin using our VoIP as a platform to integrate VoIP into their applications."
The iPad should be able to take advantage of this improved VoIP functionality as well, since the device includes a microphone and speaker. iPads will be offered in Wi-Fi only models and in models with both Wi-Fi and 3G cellular network radios.