Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Skype App for iPhone. AT&T: "Skype is a competitor" and Apple should "not facilitate the service." FCC involved.

Posted on Natuba.

Last week, Skype hit the App Store with an application that puts VoIP into your palm. Skype allows users of the free application to dial other Skype users anywhere in the world at no charge. You can upgrade the service to connect with landlines.

I tried it out and can say the calling is clear and crisp and free. You can use the contacts from your iPhone and it takes about 10 seconds to sign up.

The catch? AT&T has restricted the use of the Skype app to Wi-Fi only (though there are ways to get it on 3G). Skype cannot run in the background, so you must be in the application to take advantage of the cost-free oversees calling.

Download the app today because it may not be available tomorrow. Also, chances are your buddy has got it too. Skype is the #1 app on the iPhone since its release, over one million downloads and counting.

AT&T seems to be a little rattled about the whole, “call people for free” idea. Huh, I wonder why?

AT&T public policy executive Jim Cicconi said it all when he told USA Today that the carrier has "every right" not to promote the services of a wireless rival (Skype), and that they "absolutely expect our vendors" i.e. Apple "not to facilitate the services of our competitors." If that wasn't clear enough, he added, "Skype is a competitor, just like Verizon, or Sprint, or T-Mobile."

To the rescue are the net neutrality folks. The idea is that if there is internet functionality on the iPhone and the internet is regulated by net neutrality, shouldn’t AT&T be prevented from restricting it use in any way?

Net neutrality advocacy group Free Press has asked the FCC to investigate whether Apple and AT&T are acting unlawfully by restricting the use of Skype's application to Wi-Fi networks. The group wants the FCC to clarify and confirm that net neutrality laws extend to wireless networks, or as the group's policy council Chris Riley said in a statement, "The FCC must make it crystal clear that a closed Internet will not be tolerated on any platform."

Thanks to SkySmile for posting the photo to Natuba.

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