Friday, March 02, 2007

Skype asks help from FCC to soften Carriers hold on apps and devices

VoIP IP Telephony @

The Skype division of online auction company eBay filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission last week asking regulators to end the practice of carriers' controlling which devices and apps are used on their networks. Skype also asked the FCC to oversee an industry group that would create open standards for wireless networks.

Two public-interest groups are mulling similar action. And a handset maker in Taiwan is preparing to release a cell phone based on open-source software that it wants to sell independently of carriers.

Skype's position

In its petition, filed Feb. 21, Skype asks the FCC to apply the so-called Carterfone rules to the wireless industry. Those rules were enacted in the 1960s to force wired-telephony monopoly AT&T to let consumers connect phones and other devices to its network, even if the devices were not made or approved by AT&T. (Skype software lets users make free long-distance calls using voice-over-Internet Protocol.)

At issue is U.S. carriers' practice of restricting their networks to approved handsets and applications sold by the carriers themselves. Carriers often require that handsets use specific techniques to lock the devices for use only on their networks.
CTIA's CEO had this to say; ""Skype’s self-interested filing contains glaring legal flaws and a complete disregard for the vast consumer benefits provided by the competitive marketplace. Skype’s "recommendations" will freeze the innovation and choice hundreds of millions of consumers enjoy today. The call for imposing monopoly era Carterfone rules to today’s vibrant market is unmistakably the wrong number."
But before jumping in to any conclusions, visit CTIA and check them out, specially the current members.
A Columbia law professor decried the practice in a position paper he posted on the Web in February. In a synopsis on his blog, Tim Wu asserts that wireless carriers are "aggressively controlling product design and innovation in the equipment and application markets to the detriment of consumers."

Carriers are blocking or controlling the rollout of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, advanced short message service, mobile browsers, legal image and audio file transfers, and call timers, Wu wrote.

Follow the links to read more

EE Times Call out to wireless carriers

Prof. WU's "Wireless Net Neutrality: Cellular Carterfone on Mobile Networks"


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