Umbrellapps : iPhone but you can't VoIP

James W. Cicconi wrote a letter to Ruth Milkman on August 21, 2009, received on the same day (confirmation # 2009821776906).

In "
AT&T Response to Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Letter, DA 09-1737 (July 31, 2009); RM-11361; RM-11497", Senior Executive Vice President, External and Legislative Affairs, AT&T notified Chief Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, Federal Communications Commission a few things:

- We read in the paper that Google Voice application to the Apple App Store had been rejected. AT&T was not consulted by Apple in the decision process.

- BTW : what is "Google Voice" anyway ? What lies behind that strange "umbrellapp" ? We had a quick look at their website and "'Google Voice' appears to be an umbrella term used to describe a collection of different services". Interesting, isn't it ? "AT&T expects that Google will provide a complete description of Google Voice in response to the letter it received from the Commission and we look forward to learning more about Google Voice based on that response".

- Maybe it has something to do with that other "Google Voice application specifically for BlackBerry devices, which AT&T customers may download from the Google Voice website. AT&T does not disable access to or use of this application". Who knows ? Anyway, any AT&T customer may use Google Voice on his or her iPhone without passing by that store, via web browsing. So maybe AT&T did some research on this weird app after all.

- AT&T and Apple do discuss about App services, including with third parties, to fix technical issues. And AT&T does have its say sometimes : "AT&T has discovered applications in the Apple App Store (after they had been approved by Apple) that raised concerns about the potential misuse of certain AT&T services or customer information. AT&T alerted Apple to our concerns and, in two cases, Apple referred AT&T directly to the application providers to discuss whether the concerns could be resolved. In the third case, AT&T understands that Apple addressed the matter with the application provider".

- and oh. "AT&T and Apple have an agreement regarding Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) functionality. Apple also is aware that AT&T’s wireless data terms and conditions prohibit subscribers from redirecting television signals." So we put on the same level VoIP and TV broadcasting. Maybe AT&T doesn't want VoIP because DRM issues are not solved yet for private conversations. Go figure...

- come to think of it, Amazon made a similar trade-off with its Kindle : no voice, but no monthly charge for connectivity. So not adding calling feature to an ebook reader would be equivalent to preventing a smartphone from making smart calls.

Here I want to mark a pause and applaud the poet(s) who wrote this beautiful sentence : "It is widely recognized by economists and jurists that parties to strategic alliances in competitive markets may enter into contracts to promote and protect their respective business interests and to refrain from taking actions adverse to those interests."

You liked it too ? There's a bit more of it until the next comma : "Consistent with such lawful, economically efficient practices common among parties to strategic alliances, including participants in the mobile wireless marketplace,". Now AT&T can deliver the news : "AT&T and Apple agreed that Apple would not take affirmative steps to enable an iPhone to use AT&T’s wireless service (including 2G, 3G and Wi-Fi) to make VoIP calls without first obtaining AT&T’s consent. AT&T and Apple also agreed, however, that if a third party enables an iPhone to make VoIP calls using AT&T’s wireless service, Apple would have no obligation to take action against that third party."

So basically AT&T and Apple agreed on a block of all VoIP applications on iPhones, except via exotic Wi-Fi access.

VoIPoiPhone ? Not OK

VoIPoWiFi ? OK, even on iPhone

VoIPoiCantSeeHowRightNowButSomewhereaGeekMayFindAWay ? Try me, but don't sue me.

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