Has AT&T blinked again? The company has reversed course and announced that it will now support SlingPlayer Mobile over its 3G wireless network, freeing Sling’s fans from their reliance on Wi-Fi.
SlingPlayer Mobile allows you to stream video from a SlingMedia device at home to your iPhone. The app was introduced in May 2009, but in a restricted version; AT&T would not allow streaming over 3G because of worries that its already encumbered network would suffer further under the weight of all those place-shifting video viewers.
AT&T says that it’s been working with SlingMedia to test an “optimized” version of the app since last December. In a press release, Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility, says AT&T has been working with developers to “reduce the risk that an app will cause such extreme levels of congestion that they disrupt the experience of other wireless customers.” That jibes with AT&T’s change of heart about VoIP calls over 3G last year (though until recently, such apps were restricted by Apple as well).
By the end of the first quarter of this year, AT&T plans to release its detailed optimization requirements for developers. Presumably, those developers have the chance to improve how they use bandwidth, but the onus remains on AT&T to ensure that its network upgrades will keep its customers happy. After all, in a couple of months, untold numbers of iPad users will be hitting the network, making VoIP calls, listening to music, and watching streaming video. We’ll all be waiting to see how the network holds up.
There’s no firm word about when the update to SlingPlayer Mobile will be available. The current version costs $30 in the App Store and requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later. Obviously, to stream over the 3G network, you’ll need an iPhone 3G or 3GS. A Slingbox connected to your home video source is also required.