We have been saying that AT&T
could be in big trouble, particularly with its biggest competitor (Verizon Wireless
, don't you know?) getting every major smartphone platform on its airwaves save for the iPhone. And even still, the iPhone could be painting itself Red before too long. It seems that the pressure could be getting to "America's Fastest 3G Network," as the carrier has just done something that's completely out of character given their prior stances on these things.
First, a little backstory. Sling Media introduced the SlingPlayer Mobile app for the iPhone awhile back, but even before then, the same app was already out on a variety of other mobile platforms. Before coming to the iPhone, users were always able to use the app over a 3G connection. If you aren't in the Sling loop, the SlingPlayer Mobile app gives you the ability to watch your television via your home Sling Player on your phone. The iPhone version was limited to viewing over Wi-Fi
, which obviously caused a great deal of fuss. The issue was that AT&T was clearly against letting millions of iPhone users stream live television from their own Slingbox devices, and given the company's struggles to manage even the current strain of 3G data demand, we guess we can understand their concern.
Still, that didn't sit well with customers. AT&T was in an enviable position though, as iPhone users were locked to their service regardless of how they felt about AT&T's 3G/Sling Player stance. However, with the possibility of Verizon getting the iPhone becoming more and more likely, it seems as if AT&T is now more willing to bend their wishes in order to make peace with the existing user base. After all, AT&T wouldn't want hordes of iPhone customers fleeing for Verizon once the Verizon iPhone finally lands (if it lands), right?
According to a new press release, all of the parties involved have been testing an "optimized for 3G" version of the app, which now allows streaming over 3G as well as Wi-Fi. We get the feeling this decision was made in order to garner some positive press in the wake of all this negativity, but whatever the motive, we're just glad to see AT&T opening up. Unfortunately, something like this could actually cause their 3G networks to become even more strained, so we certainly hope appeasing the crowd doesn't lead to even worse service levels in major cities. We've also heard that AT&T is working around the clock to bolster their existing 3G networks, so hopefully that is indeed the case. Only time will tell, but this is certainly a move in the right direction from a consumer standpoint.