Thursday, October 9, 2008

Skype To FCC on "Open"

Skype answers wireless providers who believe too much choices resulting from an open network is bad for consumers.  In Skype's letter to the FCC, the VOIP raised concerns regarding networks' claim of dominion over users in a feign effort to protect consumers from having to choose.

First I have to disclose that I'm a Skype customer and I love their services.  Now, I side with Skype on this.  The wireless providers are fighting against the tide in all this.  Why is Skype caught up in all this?

Wireless providers usually have another source of revenue.  Voice plans.  And in providing wireless Internet access, VOIP applications may endanger voice revenues.  It is not about too much choices here.  It's is about protecting their turf.

For example, I use Fring on the iPhone but only on Wi-Fi networks, not the 3G network.  Clearly, this limitation was placed on iPhone users by ATT.  Apple could care less.  Take another example.  T-Mobile has an agreement with Google to limit VOIP on the G1.  As excited about it as I am getting the Android phone, I think that's a huge slap in the face for all users.  We'll know in 12 days the extent of this limitation. But from the initial information we got from the G1 press event, T-Mobile may not even allow VOIP to be installed on the G1.

Back to these wireless guys.  They have totally parse the discussion and, in my mind, have had some success in redefining what "open" mean for mobile users.  Skype should not be the only one fight this issue.  I am surprise no one seems to be doing much about it.

Google has done a lot in getting the FCC to make segments of the 700Mhz open but Verizon is already trying to change what that means.  People want choices.  A couple of months ago Verizon CEO asked the audience at the same CTIA event Skype talked about in their letter to the FCC if they wanted an open network, he was met with a resounding affirmation and applause, something that seemingly caught him by surprise.  Of course, he eventually recovered and told the audience that they don't want that.  Talk about being out of touch, eh?

Why are they being like this?  $14 Billion of non-voice revenues that they are trying to protect.  That's why.

Source:  RCR Wireless
Note:  The full letter from Skype to the FCC is here at Fierce Wireless.  From the letter:
  • Applications are blocked even on the most recently-announced advanced handsets.
  • Skype's application is forbidden, blocked and otherwise interfered with by the largest CTIA members.
  • When a Skype user can legally call the Chairman of the FCC on the mobile broadband networks of each of the top three wireless networks, we will know that their conduct is consistent with the consumer empowerment principles of the Internet Policy Statement.
  • CTIA is currently suing the Commission to overturn the very openness rule they now claim to embrace.
  • Quoted Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer.  "Consumers aren't getting all they want when companies are very proprietary and lock their products down...I would like to write some more powerful apps than what you're allowed."
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