Skype for the iPhone hit the App store last week and it has become a massive success with over 1 million downloads since its launch. As expected, the Skype service, which traditionally makes calls over a data connection from a computer, has been restricted on the iPhone so that consumers can’t make VoIP calls over AT&T’s 3G network. Clearly, from a business logic this makes sense since consumers pay a monthly data fee with their iPhone service and if allowed could make unlimited calls with no restrictions on minutes, which in turn would heavily tax the carrier and contradict their business model.
But would it really? At this point carriers, at least from my understanding make most of their money off data plans and text messages, with the latter being a God send since each message requires so little data usage it’s practically free for them to transmit and that means massive profits. But one consumer group, Free Press, isn’t happy about the current Skype calling restriction on the iPhone and has requested that the Federal Communications Commission to investigate if Apple and AT&T are contradicting federal guidelines by preventing VoIP application from accessing the carrier’s 3G network. Until an answer has been provided Skype iPhone users will be restricted to making calls over WiFi, which is free to all AT&T iPhone customers for free at hundred of Starbucks locations.