Will AT&T’s Randall Stephenson Mobilize Skype?

LarryMagid.StephensonATT.2009-05-26 We all know that Skype for iPhone currently requires that you be at a WiFi access point in order to make a Skype call from the iPhone, even though it supports 3G data. So, when highly respected technology reporter Larry Magid, attending today’s D:AllThingsDigital conference, sends out the Tweet, shown to the right, quoting AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, many questions arise:

  • Has AT&T heard that Skype really provides communications software? I think that is the message that Skype President Josh Silverman has been trying to deliver when he states, “software will drive the future of real time communications innovation and efficiencies going forward, not the existing telcos
  • Is failure to allow Skype for iPhone to run over AT&T’s 3G network a tacit admission that AT&T continues to suffer from 3G data network capacity and quality issues? Once again my most recent trip roaming on AT&T in Chicago four weeks ago demonstrated nothing to say service availability and robustness has improved over my previous experiences in PA, WV, VA, NC, SC, CA and NV.
  • Is AT&T’s response to SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone (or BlackBerry) one more challenge to, or subtle admission of, AT&T’s network quality and robustness issues. Is the following statement a cover-up for their failings:

    “Slingbox, which would use large amounts of wireless network capacity, could create congestion and potentially prevent other customers from using the network,” an AT&T representative said in e-mail to reporters. “The application does not run on our 3G wireless network. Applications like this, which redirect a TV signal to a personal computer, are specifically prohibited under our terms of service.”

I would invite Mr. Stephenson to Canada where I can demonstrate Rogers’ high quality 3G GSM data network that:

  • has robust and reliable 3G data coverage in not only major population areas but also all our major tourist and recreation areas (Whistler, Central Ontario, Tremblant, etc.)
  • is always there when I expect it
  • has no issue with using SlingPlayer Mobile for BlackBerry (and has made no issue with SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone either)
  • Rogers is offering its Rocket Stick mobile data service over its  7.2Mbps 3.5G HSPA network, placing additional demand on their network capacity.

Phone Boy's Tweet: I'd just be happy if AT&T would just stop dropping calls while standing in the same spot.Bottom Line: Sorry, Randall, but AT&T has a long way to go to show that they understand the real potential of, and that they’re serious about, their mobile business.

For more amusement check out John Paczkowski’s report on Walt Mossberg’s Q&A with Randall Stephenson at D7.

Update: Om Malik reports this afternoon at GigaOm: AT&T Moves Up Its LTE Rollout, Admits To Network Issues. Seems that AT&T is finally admitting they have some issues to address.

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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