Last year, Sling Media announced SlingPlayer Mobile, a version of their client software designed for mobile devices that enables users to place-shift television and video from their home video systems using a Slingbox, and transmit it to themselves for viewing over the Internet. One problem: AT&T said its network wasn’t ready for the idea of people pushing all sorts of video to their smartphones, and so limited the iPhone version of the application to only operation over the phone’s built-in Wi-Fi connection rather than its 3G network. That’s fine if you’re regularly in range of some reliable open Wi-Fi, but not much good if you’re anywhere else.
Today, AT&T has decided to open the floodgates, announcing that it will support SlingPlayer Mobile on its 3G network. AT&T has been testing the application since December and is satisfied the app’s efforts to optimize bandwidth utilization are good enough: the company has notified Sling Media and Apple that SlingPlayer Mobile is good to go.
“Collaboration with developers like Sling Media ensures that all apps are optimized for our 3G network to conserve wireless spectrum and reduce the risk that an app will cause such extreme levels of congestion that they disrupt the experience of other wireless customers,” said AT&T Mobility president and CEO Ralph de la Vega, in a statement. “Our focus continues to be on delivering the nation’s most advanced mobile broadband experience and giving our customers the widest possible array of mobile applications.”
Right now, SlingPlayer Mobile is the only video application approved for use on AT&T’s 3G network; however, AT&T says it will post details of its wireless network optimization requirements for other developers video and other bandwidth-intensive media by the end of the first quarter of 2010. SlingPlayer Mobile dynamically adjusts bandwidth utilization based on current network conditions; apparently AT&T is satisfied the technology will not disrupt service on AT&T’s network, which has already developed a reputation for being over-taxed and unreliable.
Both consumer groups and Sling Media had filed a complaints with the Federal Communications Commission that AT&T’s decision to bar video applications from its 3G network was discriminatory, particularly since AT&T was streaming things like baseball games over its network.