Skype iPhone restrictions stir up lobbying to Europe, FCC
The release of Skype for iPhone may have opened a Pandora's box of legal headaches for carriers. In Europe, Deutsche Telekom (DT) has said it will prohibit the use of VoIP apps on its 3G network, restrict use of said apps on the company's hotspot network, and cancel the contract of customers who try to work around the restrictions. Meanwhile, public advocacy group Free Press is asking the Federal Communications Commission to investigate AT&T's implementation of Skype on the iPhone, wondering if restricting use of Skype to WiFi and locking out 3G is a violation of federal law.
Skype is turning up its political lobbying efforts to turn up the heat on DT, calling on supporters to contact European politicians in a blog posting. The Voice on the Net (VON) coalition Europe (http://www.voneurope.eu/, not to be confused with the American version or the dead trade show, is also gearing up against DT's banning of Skype for iPhone with a press statement saying that blocking of voice apps on mobile devices is "highly detrimental" for European consumers; Skype is a member of the group, along with Google, Microsoft, and Intel.
On Friday, Free Press called for the FCC to confirm that wireless networks must adhere to the FCC Internet Policy Statement, saying that consumers should have the right to access any online content and services on any device of their choosing. Skype for iPhone is one of three examples cited where wireless vendors are limiting the functionality of applications and/or content.
Whether or not the FCC as currently constituted is in any shape to make a policy statement is another issue. Currently, Michael Copps is serving as acting FCC chairman while Julius Genachowski awaits confirmation on Capitol Hill, while there are only two other FCC Commissioners seated at this time.