updated 08:10 am EST, Thu February 4, 2010
AT&T says optimized Sling OK for 3G network
AT&T on Thursday greenlit the use of SlingPlayer Mobile for the iPhone on its 3G network. The carrier now claims that it has tested the app since mid-December and believes it can run without consuming too much bandwidth. The software is described as "optimized," but it's not clear whether Sling has had to change code to fit AT&T's guidelines.
Both Apple and Sling have been told of the change in policy, though it's not said when the updated app might be approved and available through the App Store.
The decision marks a distinct reversal of AT&T's attitude towards the app, which streams video from a TV-connected Slingbox over the Internet and lets users remotely control some set-top boxes. Initially, the provider only allowed access over Wi-Fi and made the unusual argument that the iPhone was a personal computer where other smartphones were not, banning it from redirecting TV under terms of service. It later had to admit that bandwidth was the issue as it didn't believe the 3G network could handle the load.
Pressure may also come from proposed FCC neutrality rules. The agency hasn't formally committed to regulating mobile apps, but it has said that it may require that cellular carriers, not just landline services, to treat legal apps fairly and avoid discrimination against specific software or protocols. Anticipation of these rules helped contribute to enabling Skype and other iPhone VoIP apps over 3G.