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Group Pushes FCC To Investigate Skype for iPhone 131

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the making-the-network-crumble-crumble dept.
Macworld is reporting that an internet advocacy group has asked the FCC to investigate whether the WiFi-only restriction on the Skype for iPhone app is in violation of federal law. "Since its release on Tuesday, Skype for iPhone has been downloaded more than a million times — that's a rate of six downloads a second, according to the company. All this despite the fact the software only works via the iPhone's Wi-Fi connection, and not AT&T's 3G network. [...] The letter cites the FCC's Internet Policy Statement (PDF link) which states that 'consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice' in order to 'preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet.'"
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Group Pushes FCC To Investigate Skype for iPhone

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  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Friday April 03, 2009 @06:17PM (#27452095) Homepage

    Not to sound jaded, but Slashdotters know the outcome of this already.

    • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday April 03, 2009 @06:23PM (#27452173) Homepage Journal

      Considering how often consumer win these thing, I don't know who is going to win.

    • by Duradin (1261418) on Friday April 03, 2009 @06:39PM (#27452333)

      AT&T and Apple decide it's not worth the legal rigamarole and pull the plug on the Skype app entirely?

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by arbiter1 (1204146)

        knowing apple they will make a skype type app so they can charge more $$$ for it and take skype off the istore

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MidnightBrewer (97195)

          This isn't Apple's issue, this is the cell phone carriers in general (we have the same problem with Softbank here in Japan). Also, considering there are already other free applications in place that support not only Skype, but integrated multiple IM chat (Fring), I don't think Apple minds.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by spire3661 (1038968)

        If the FCC steps in, they may not be ABLE to pull it without incurring their wrath. The FCC DOES have teeth when motivated.

        • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

          by Z00L00K (682162)

          And then there are other apps that will follow in the wake.

          Just waiting for the dam to burst when it comes to Apple and their crippled world.

          However - this isn't limited to Apple, many other manufacturers and telcos are working together to cripple the user experience.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by HTH NE1 (675604)

          The FCC can't regulate what apps Apple makes available in their store. However, they might be able to force Apple to open the platform to other stores. Then again, Apple is free to kill the platform to prevent that (would they? could they be forced to if AT&T's contract demands of restrictions can't be met?).

          And if Apple gets off by saying a 3G network is not an Internet network but rather a digital telephony network through which the Internet can be tunneled, expect other providers like cable and DSL t

          • by tyrione (134248)

            The FCC can't regulate what apps Apple makes available in their store. However, they might be able to force Apple to open the platform to other stores. Then again, Apple is free to kill the platform to prevent that (would they? could they be forced to if AT&T's contract demands of restrictions can't be met?).

            And if Apple gets off by saying a 3G network is not an Internet network but rather a digital telephony network through which the Internet can be tunneled, expect other providers like cable and DSL to make similar declarations to justify restricting what their users can put through their television delivery and wired analog telephony networks.

            That's absolutely brain dead. First of all, Apple has no power to control the AT&T Network. Apple is not of interest, just the way AT&T has allowed or not allowed Skype to operate, on it's backbone. Apple is bound to the contract they signed with AT&T.

          • by BitZtream (692029)

            If Apple can not perform part of the contract with AT&T because it would require Apple to break the law, then that portion of the contract with AT&T is invalid and can not be enforced. That does not invalidate the rest of the obligations in the contract.

            Contrary to popular ignorance, a contract can not force you to break the law, nor can a contract remove any rights that you are granted by law.

          • by rolfwind (528248)

            The FCC can't regulate what apps Apple makes available in their store. However, they might be able to force Apple to open the platform to other stores. Then again, Apple is free to kill the platform to prevent that (would they? could they be forced to if AT&T's contract demands of restrictions can't be met?).

            If AT&T forced Apple to close the app store, they would just kill their own golden egg. They're greedy, but I don't think AT&T are that stupid. Going for a few extra bucks here and there i

    • by erroneus (253617) on Friday April 03, 2009 @07:23PM (#27452759) Homepage

      No no no no NO!

      I will hear no more of this nonsense! Apple and AT&T know what is best and we should just respect their superior wisdom. I know there are those out there who think that they should be able to use the products and services they pay for, but not at the expense of Apple's and AT&T's profit model! How un-American are you people?! You may pay for internet service, but that doesn't mean you can use it to get around their "nickel and dime"-ing your phone bill with added services like texting and the like.

      Apple provides the product and they should be able to tell you how you are allowed to use it.

      AT&T provides the service and they should be able to tell you what you are allowed to use it.

      • Yo iPhone guys! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Friday April 03, 2009 @08:38PM (#27453407) Homepage

        "Apple provides the product and they should be able to tell you how you are allowed to use it."

        Exactly. Read your EULA, or whatever the iPhone's equivalent is. You were pitched a locked-down device with a closed software stack, and you went "fine, whatever, as long as it Just Works(TM) you can do what you want."

        Now they're doing what they want -- leveraging the closed platform to shut out competition. And you're bitching.

      • Well the AT&T TOS says you can use the network to browse the web and use email. The Apple iPhone developer program does not allow you to write applications that compete with programs they already supply, and since Apple already supplies a web browser and an email program... I believe this means that we are not allowed to write programs for the iPhone that uses network communication capabilities for any purpose whatsoever. As a developer who is a communications engineer (and who had planned to write iPho
    • by perlchild (582235)

      Yeah, if they intended to force cellphones to open up and work like the Internet, we'd only have data plans, and voip over them. One advantage is that we'd pay less for "silences" in a conversation. Mostly, you wouldn't pay more for voice, transmitted over gsm, than for voice over ip. SMS would also become MUCH cheaper...

      • by mysidia (191772)

        And data would become much more expensive. The providers require huge profits, to be willing to provide service, and they're going to make them by charging rates that result in those profits, based on what services a majority of their subscribers utilize.

  • by lymond01 (314120) on Friday April 03, 2009 @06:17PM (#27452097)

    I...if this...orking or...an you he...ause I ca...ou...Wha...er...is...ucks.

    • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Friday April 03, 2009 @08:07PM (#27453061)

      I...if this...orking or...an you he...ause I ca...ou...Wha...er...is...ucks.

      Recovering original text:

      Incense massif thistlebird uncorking orangutan you hentai applause I caribou. Wharfmaster fish trucks.

      • And that, ladies and gentlemen, was a fine example of iPhone text prediction feature!

        • by lymond01 (314120)

          And that, ladies and gentlemen, was a fine example of iPhone text prediction feature!

          That's just col', yo.

          I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.

          I think you'll find that not too many people disagree with your sentiment. It's the 10 people to a pothole working with $100 hammers that seems to be the issue.

    • by forkazoo (138186)

      I...if this...orking or...an you he...ause I ca...ou...Wha...er...is...ucks.

      Yeah, everybody knows it's impossible to transmit audio in real time on a telephone. The connection just isn't designed for that type of 21st century use.

    • by AndyCR (1091663)
      I use Skype over Sprint's 3G on a Touch Pro and it works perfectly. The audio quality is comparable to normal phone calls. There's no reason why it wouldn't work.
  • by irtza (893217) on Friday April 03, 2009 @06:18PM (#27452101) Homepage
    well, if the cellular network is not running on IP and requires a bridge, then technically this is not an issue. Does anyone know how software developers interact with the data stack on cell phones? Is it the same as the wifi stack with another device name given or does it have its own API?
    • by gnarfel (1135055)
      I would assume that since you can browse the web and use listening sockets you must have something to put in those packet headers as a source address.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by irtza (893217)
        well, my main issue is that you can embed http or ftp content in non-TCP/IP packets and have it reconstructed into proper TCP/IP packets at the verizon end. This essentially allows them to declare their network "private" and their protocols proprietary thus making their software at the server end the only Internet connected portion of the communication.
        • by sortius_nod (1080919) on Friday April 03, 2009 @07:24PM (#27452763) Homepage

          You are confusing TCP/IP with the term "public internet". The protocol is different to the concept. Public interconnected networks, no matter the protocol, seem to fall under this FCC Policy.

          On top of this, if you are serving up TCP/IP packets to the user but the technology in between is not TCP/IP, well, there is no difference as far as the user's perception. Add to this that interception of traffic goes against laws (at least where I live it is), and you've got a very strong case for knocking down any interference in the service.

          I've had a phone company here in Australia try to claim that internet traffic on a phone isn't internet traffic and therefore they didn't need to update the usage meter under ACMA (Australian Communications & Media Authority) regulations. After a year of the TIO (Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman) investigating I was advised I wasn't liable for the charges that were acrued due to their meter not updating. Their case of "it's data not internet" didn't wash. I'd like to see how a case like this goes in the US where you don't have consumer protection like we do in Australia.

          And no, I didn't have to pay any legal fees, or even turn up to any court hearings. The TIO investigates and refers the matter to the ACMA for enforcement. The company that did this was not only told to fix the usage meter, they were charged a minimum of AU$1500 for the case going to a level 3 investigation (which was much more than the amount they would have received from me).

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by mysidia (191772)

          It's not whether the protocol is open or not that means a node is participating in the internet. It's about whether there's a router or not that converts their local network communication to TCP/IP communication and communicates with other hosts.

          You can be on an old Novell IPX/SPX network, and use pure IPX/SPX packets, if there's a machine that acts as a Proxy or Router, and converts those packets into IP packets, then you're definitely connected to the internet.

          Since the sockets API is basically the

    • by forand (530402) on Friday April 03, 2009 @07:12PM (#27452643) Homepage
      Perhaps the issue is that AT&T sells us internet access (at least that is how it appears on my bill).
      • by Rockoon (1252108)
        Going further, skype is proving that the data service AT&T is selling works out to a better deal than the voice service they are selling when used for the same purpose, which leads right to..

        AT&T (and the rest) have either been way over-charging for their voice service for a very long time, or that they are way undercharging (taking a loss) on their data service.

        Personally I think its quite clear that they are overcharging. Evidence of this are the very inexpensive prepaid voice-only services su
        • by icebike (68054)

          >AT&T (and the rest) have either been way over-charging for their voice service for a very long time, or that they are way undercharging (taking a loss) on their data service.

          I don't see that math when I look at my bill.

          We have multiple lines of service with ATT. Each additional after the first costs 9 bucks. However we pay a 30 dollar data plan charge PER LINE for smartphone usage. (iPhone, Blackberry, etc).

          So I pay much more for the data plan than I do for the minutes.

    • by vistic (556838) on Friday April 03, 2009 @07:23PM (#27452745)

      Is the protocol what technically defines "the Internet"? Is IPv6 a new Internet?

      I would think it's a matter of being able to access data which is on the Internet, regardless of protocol.

      If you can normally access Internet-connected machines over their 3G network... such as accessing any website... then it's clear this is a restriction on Skype because they fear that it's competition.

      • by HTH NE1 (675604)

        I would think it's a matter of being able to access data which is on the Internet, regardless of protocol.

        So I'm entitled to run live streaming video over carrier pigeons and social networks?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by marcsherman (300604)

          So I'm entitled to run live streaming video over carrier pigeons and social networks?

          Do it with the twitter error page, and you can implement both protocols at the same time!

        • I would think it's a matter of being able to access data which is on the Internet, regardless of protocol.

          So I'm entitled to run live streaming video over carrier pigeons and social networks?

          Sure you are.

          The right to be stupid, however, does not mean you have the right to succeed by being stupid. (However much big business is trying to convince people otherwise.)

          In other words: You have the right to do so, provided you pay the required costs, etc. And we have the right to laugh at you.

    • by tyrione (134248)
      Did you bid billions of dollars for bandwidth licensing to the FCC? No? Move along.
    • by Nurgled (63197)

      The data connection is similar in concept to a dial-up modem where you establish a point-to-point link and send datagrams over it. On Android (which is based on Linux), the cellular data link is a normal ppp interface as far as userspace is concerned, and it uses the normal Linux IP stack making it completely transparent to app developers. I've no idea how this manifests on the iPhone, though. Apple may well have artificially split the API to make things like this (allowing Skype only over wi-fi) possible.

    • by iluvcapra (782887)

      I don't think I'm violating an NDA by telling you that a client uses CFNetwork [apple.com] (for primitives) and the Cocoa URL loading system for network access (this is a whole bunch of classes for everything from URL requests to certificate policies). There's an API for discovering if the system is connected to the Network (I'm avoiding "internet" since that seems to be a loaded term) by Wifi or "carrier network" as they put it. I'm pretty sure you can use the BSD socket API as well, but Apple probably would rather

  • "preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet."

    Someone missed their interweb for dummies class.

  • 3g Good enough? (Score:3, Informative)

    by supernatendo (1523947) on Friday April 03, 2009 @06:27PM (#27452213)
    I don't think 3G is good enough whether or not it gives a public IP adress is besides the point... 3G can be expected to provide 384 kbit/s at or below pedestrian speeds, but only 128 kbit/s in a moving car...Thus making WiFi really the only viable way to do it in the first place. It's not so much them restricting it just to be evil...
    • Re:3g Good enough? (Score:5, Informative)

      by dunkelfalke (91624) on Friday April 03, 2009 @06:33PM (#27452281)

      skype works well enough on my windows mobile phone and umts. 128 kbit/s is plenty for speech, especially if compressed (euro isdn uses an uncompressed 64 kbit/s channel for speech and it is way better than analogue landline).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by supernatendo (1523947)
        You are referring to Europe's ISDN lines, which are not IP based they are using a digital signal over POTS, which explains the better voice clarity. IP packets are handled differently since there is much more going on at once.
        • Re:3g Good enough? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by afidel (530433) on Friday April 03, 2009 @07:22PM (#27452743)
          Dude, GSM datarate is 13Kbps, ulaw which is what better VoIP handsets use is 64Kbps. Bandwidth is NOT the issue, the loss of stupid per minute revenue is.
        • by sjames (1099)

          Actually, every phone call ISDN or POTS ends up digitized to an uncompressed 64Kbps stream at some point. In ISDN, it happens a few feet away from you, in POTS, a mile down the road. That's what makes the quality difference.

          The rest of the phone network is all based on aggregating multiple 64Kbps streams into higher data rate lines and then de-aggregating them again on the other side.

          The extra packet overhead is easily compensated by data compression.

          In digital data lines, the same thing happens but instead

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        Hey, douche bag, you know your cell phone is far better at functioning as a phone than skype is under any circumstances right?

        I fail to understand why people continue to buy a cell phone, only to use it for data, which its not nearly as good at, in order to run software that lets it act like a phone ...

        Are you part of the same group of people that will send 30 text back and for messages with someone over the course of 5 minutes rather than just calling them and talking for 15 seconds?

        • i mentioned that my phone is running windows mobile. windows mobile phones are far better at functioning as pdas than cell phones (amongst other things because to make calls they run software which lets them act as a cellphone).

          it looks that you can write but you can't read. it is a rather strange constellation.

        • by kchrist (938224)

          I fail to understand why people continue to buy a cell phone, only to use it for data, which its not nearly as good at, in order to run software that lets it act like a phone

          International calls and usage. With a Skype client I can call overseas without paying high AT&T fees, and I can make calls while traveling without paying international roaming charges.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Funny you mention this because I just made a call a few hours ago with skype using the 3G from my (tethered) G1 phone and the call was crystal clear on both ends.

      If you have a G1 you can tether it with http://graha.ms/androidproxy/ [graha.ms] and use it with skype's proxy option.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by mysidia (191772)

      That's really all you need. 64 kilobits of voice (upstream) and 64 kilobytes downstream.

      You don't need high quality, you don't need a high bit rate for usable voice, you just need good latency characteristics.

      Also, Skype may not use it (at least not for free), but, with G.729 codec and the requisite compression, 8 Kilobits per second is enough, for a usable quality audio signal.

    • Er, you do understand how GSM works right? You are using, in the vast majority of instances, a 2 bit codec - and by this I mean 2 bits out of a standard 8 bit wide 64kbps timeslot on some trunk that is already compressed to the crap house using DCME. This means for voice you are given a generous 16kbps. What do you want for skype? 6 channel surround sound? 128kbps, are you serious?!

      Skype can and does work absolutely fine on 3G. Even speeding along the interstate.

  • by Timothy Brownawell (627747) <tbrownaw@prjek.net> on Friday April 03, 2009 @06:31PM (#27452255) Homepage Journal

    an internet advocacy group has asked the FCC to investigate whether the WiFi-only restriction on the Skype for iPhone app is in violation of federal law.

    If it is in violation (or rather, if AT&T's requirement that led to the software being restricted is in violation), wouldn't they already be having problems with their no-tethering rules for some data/internet plans?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      If it is in violation ... wouldn't they already be having problems with their no-tethering rules ...?

      That comes apart into two issues:

      1) Wouldn't no-tethering rules also be in violation?

      IMHO: Yes.

      (If it's a bandwidth issue they should cap the sustained data rate in the plan and its pricing, not distinguish between the handset with crippled apps and an attached device that is likely to impose higher loads.)

      2) Wouldn't they already be having legal issues over them?

      Not necessarily. The affect

  • Some more links on MacRumors [macrumors.com]:
    "T-Mobile in Germany, however, threatened [macrumors.com] that it may take action to prevent its customers from using Skype on the iPhone. [...] Skype [appshopper.com] has proven to be massively popular on the iPhone and iPod Touch reaching over one million downloads [macrumors.com] in the first two days of availability."

    • by gnarfel (1135055)
      Can a contract be cancelled because you install your own software (be it to bypass restrictions, install unauthorized apps or anything for that matter) on the hardware you purchased?
  • by zogger (617870) on Friday April 03, 2009 @06:43PM (#27452377) Homepage Journal

    not just skype...and that would be the wireless telcos policies and various restrictions (hardware and software) and additional fees, etc., surrounding tethering and data transfer in general terms. Bits are bits are bits, they shouldn't be allowed to charge "extra" for moving bits based on what the bits are doing, or if they are traveling through an additional legal device the consumer may own and use. Since when are there different flavor bits, like voice bits, text bits, some web page bits, or whatever? They are getting away with charging different fees for different things like that, when it is all just the same "bits" moving around.

    • by johnsonav (1098915) on Friday April 03, 2009 @07:13PM (#27452651) Journal

      Since when are there different flavor bits, like voice bits, text bits, some web page bits, or whatever?

      I don't mean to defend the phone company (especially AT&T), but there are legitimate reasons to differentiate between different bits, both for the cell company and the consumer.

      I want all my "voice" bits to have low latency, and high reliability. I don't mind if my web page loading pauses for a half second; but a half second pause in a conversation is less acceptable. They're both just bits. But most customers appreciate a distinction between the two.

      Now, the cell network is not an unlimited pipe. There are a certain number of bits which can go through it over a specified period of time. But, people have an almost unlimited capacity to use all available bandwidth. So, you have to find some way to ration that bandwidth, while still retaining the distinctions between different "flavors" of bits.

      AT&T has outright banned some activities on the iphone (tethering, 3G skype, 3G VOIP in general), as a way of rationing that limited bandwidth. They could also choose to implement price discrimination: charging customers more to tether, for example.

      But, ultimately, they have to find a way to bring the "bandwidth actually used" number to at or below the "bandwidth available" number. All the while respecting the expectations of the consumers regarding different "flavors" of bits.

      Now, you could just say, "To hell with it," and remove all caps and restrictions, making every bit equal. But, you'd lose customers as people get pissed at the terrible voice quality.

      • I would argue that bits are STILL bits.

        AT&T provides voice service over their GSM network, they do not provide VOIP over their 3g network. I am used to seeing half second pauses when loading pages (ok, I use verizon...*multi*second pauses) over 3G and at this point it doesn't bother me too much since I am still astounded that I am getting quick internet in my pocket (although when I was testing an AT&T blackberry, the network was much more responsive).

        Being familiar with my web browsing speeds,

      • Now, you could just say, "To hell with it," and remove all caps and restrictions, making every bit equal. But, you'd lose customers as people get pissed at the terrible voice quality.

        Or you could sell a plan that honors QoS tagging and includes a small (good for a VoIP connection) rate of high QoS packets - with high QoS packets exceeding the contracted rate demoted to "best effort". (And yes it's OK to rewrite the type-of-service field.)

        Then the limited-but-quality-sensitive VoIP (or whatever) stream(s) c

        • by profplump (309017)
          You're just being silly. There's no way that a tightly-provisioned radio packet service could ever be made to service both latency-sensitive and bulk traffic at the same time. Ignore the fact that this is essentially what's done (albeit in larger increments) with current voice vs. data cellular connections, and that GSM supports provisioning of (essentially) arbitrarily sized channels, and that EGPRS/3G support dynamic binding to several channels at once to form a single connection, thereby allowing you to
          • You're just being silly. There's no way that a tightly-provisioned radio packet service could ever be made to service both latency-sensitive and bulk traffic at the same time.

            Garbage. (And I work for a company that makes some of the boxes in question, in the applicable section of the engineering department. They may not be doing it NOW. But it's NOT HARD. And doing such stuff is our bread-and-butter.)

            (I'd describe how but I might need to keep it close to my chest due to patent issues.)

            What's really impo

      • Then they shouldn't market the data plan as "unlimited". It's simply false advertising.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by GameMaster (148118)

        I understand that there is a difference between the QOS settings for voice and data. That makes sense. I don't think anyone is saying that they have to stop differentiating between voice and data, but if I choose to use my data connection to run VoiP (assuming I'm willing to put up with the increase in skipping, if there is one) or to tether to my laptop then that should be my decision to make, not theirs. They have no business even knowing what kind of software/hardware I'm using on my end of the wirele

      • by jlebrech (810586)

        couldn't at&t partner directly with skype and make all their voice calls operate as voip calls, then they would be using the same "pipes"? could't they just make sure the path to the skype servers isn't congested.

    • by mysidia (191772)

      Different bits have different link characteristic demands. Go look up QoS.

      In theory they _could_ introduce high jitter to their 'data' service.

      i.e. Artificial jitter.

      Text Web bits would still do fine, and web users would never notice, due to TCP's characteristics, but the link would be unusable for 'voice bits', without some type of caching or shaping at both ends (that would also terribly compromise the experience), to compensate for the intentional conditioning of the link.

      'Text' as in SMS are a

      • Yea, and if anyone could ever force the release of documents proving they had, intentionally, crippled their internet access to maintain their voice business they'd be in a world of hurt similar to, or much worse, than this could turn into. That's the kind of stuff the FCC and the FTC exist to step on.

        As for SMS, you're right. It is a separate protocol, but not in the way you seem to be suggesting. SMS exists because there happened to be unused fields in the header of digital voice service packets. That

      • 'Text' as in SMS are a totally different protocol and require totally different handling by the provider from 'web' data bits, so it's understandable it would be priced separately.

        Once upon a time. SMS over a GSM bearer, yes. Most phones these days, most provider settings, in the days of ubiquitous EDGE and 3G networks will use SMS over a GPRS bearer, which is essentially data in the sense that you might consume TCP/IP.

        • by mysidia (191772)

          The problem of delivering text message to the right place is a hell of a lot more complicated, and a lot more expensive than TCP/IP routing. IP routing is fairly trivial; there is commodity equipment for this, and the databases are fairly small.

          With SMS routing, the databases would be massive.

          The difference is still at least as big as the difference between customer using an ISP's mail server, and the customer using a third-party provider's mail server.

          The cell carriers have to provide the storage,

    • by ari wins (1016630)
      Get used to it! It's coming soon to the intratubes, when net neutrality is liquidated for the sake of the children.

      Oh, and money. A boat full of money. Maybe a small fleet of boats.
  • hypocrites (Score:3, Informative)

    by nathan.fulton (1160807) on Friday April 03, 2009 @06:47PM (#27452417) Journal
    'consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice' in order to 'preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet.'"

    So AT&T/Apple get to create an effective monopoly by tabooing the use of the iPhone with other services, but their fanboys are up in arms when Skype provides a service that doesn't use 3G?

    If anything, consumers should be weary of 3G lock-in. Who cares if an app only works via wifi? Why the hell would you use voip on your phone if you are already paying for the phone connection? Isn't that antithetical to any reason consumers would prefer voip to more traditional solutions?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gnarfel (1135055)
      Because some calls (other skype users...) are completely free, with unlimited time.
    • Re:hypocrites (Score:5, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573) on Friday April 03, 2009 @06:52PM (#27452473) Homepage

      Ahem. I am an iPhone user. I am not a fanboi. There are millions of other iPhone users just like me, you just don't hear from us over the high pitched whine that the minority of users put off.

      Just because I like owning an iPod and I feel that the iPhone has a superior browsing experience than any other mobile device out there does not mean that I defend the devices inadequacies to the death. In fact, I think the thing fucking sucks for doing much other than surfing the web and playing media. Thankfully that's what I use it for the most and thus it's fine for me. I put it into the same bucket as using Windows. The OS works and is supported very well. It has its faults and those faults suck but it does what I need it to do easily and it works well enough. *shrug*

      Please don't assume that just because a small portion of users of Foo rant and rave about its wonders that the rest of us are like that.

      • I think the thing fucking sucks for doing much other than surfing the web and playing media.

        I feel it's the other way around for my BlackBerry Curve 8330. It was a choice between the BB and iPhone. So I chose the superior business functionality that it provides. At least MP3 playback isn't so bad. :-/

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bigstrat2003 (1058574) *

        In fact, I think the thing fucking sucks for doing much other than surfing the web and playing media.

        /boggle

        That's rather pathetic on Apple's part, then. You'd think that a device called the iPhone would be a good, y'know, phone.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          You'd normally only think that if the device had physical buttons that you could press without looking. Otherwise you'd think "what the fuck kind of phone is this?" Most voice dial sucks...

    • by mysidia (191772)

      Maybe VoIP is more economical, more cost-effective, and most people would rather use it, due to it being cheaper?? If a call is getting bad characteristics, it's certainly convenient to be able to hang up, and call them back over the GSM service; think of it as redundancy, when the signal gets so poor or the connection gets so bad that VoIP doesn't work.. it's nice to have a backup plan!

      Ok, let's say I have an iPhone. Where can I get the data plan that doesn't include or make me pay for any phone se

    • by chenjeru (916013)

      Why the hell would you use voip on your phone if you are already paying for the phone connection?

      Two words: international calling.

      Also, I don't know the details of your mobile plans, but here in Holland I have limited calling minutes, but unlimited data per month. Free Skype = no wasted phone minutes.

    • If anything, consumers should be weary of 3G lock-in. Who cares if an app only works via wifi? Why the hell would you use voip on your phone if you are already paying for the phone connection? Isn't that antithetical to any reason consumers would prefer voip to more traditional solutions?

      Quick example of why: My parents are moving to Ethiopia soon. AT&T will charge $1.19 a minute for a call. Skype will charge $0.458 a minute. If I can use plan minutes and Skype, I'll spend less than half the money to talk to them on the phone. And I'd still be able to talk to them anywhere, not just someplace where I can get a wifi signal.

      This is a bit of an extreme case, but all the numbers are real.

    • . . . when some entreprenuer starts a mobile TCP/IP *only* mobile communications company. Honestly, the current mobile co.s have the most insane pricing structures based on this incredibly convoluted notion of artificially seperating and billing for different types of digital data. What utter rubbish. Voice, text messages, instant messages, email, pictures, or MP3s - it's all data.

      Seems to me that all you need is TCP/IP with QoS/Traffic Shaping to make sure that voice calls get priority on your network. The

    • by RudeIota (1131331)

      Why the hell would you use voip on your phone if you are already paying for the phone connection?

      International calls? Video in the future might be cool too. You really don't have to try too hard to come up with some decent reasons.

      Please step away from the soap box... It's slippery up there and you might hurt yourself.

  • Thank You (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MikeD83 (529104) on Friday April 03, 2009 @06:53PM (#27452481)
    Maybe now consumers will actually get to use their devices. I have a Blackberry from Verizon and the ex parte filing addresses 1 of my concerns: tethering. If I pay for an unlimited data plan... why can't I tether?
    My second issue isn't mentioned but seems anti-consumer. Why can't I use the GPS on my Blackberry Pearl in Google Maps? I even pay for the stupid VZ Navigator software and Google Maps still can't use the GPS.
    • "Why can't I use the GPS on my Blackberry Pearl in Google Maps?"

      Is it possible that it's Google's choice? I know that the free version of Google Maps on my desktop computer does not support a USB-based GPS, but the "Pro" version of Google Maps does. Do they have a paid version?

    • by Kormac (466376)
      Update your phone (OS 4.5) & Google maps. Verizon unlocked GPS for the Pearl 8130 shortly after the Storm shipped, and it required a code change in Google maps (regular GPS is unlocked, assisted GPS is still locked to VZNav).

      The 8130 OS 4.5 ("device software") can be downloaded from http://vzw.smithmicro.com/blackberry/ [smithmicro.com] and Google Maps can be updated from http://m.google.com/maps [google.com] Kormac
    • Your cellular provider distinguishes between unlimited mobile device internet and laptop grade internet ( bad term but you get my meaning). A cell phone will have a much harder time 'wasting' bandwidth versus a full on PC with a full OS. Its a dubious distinction that will absolutely need to be adressed as the lines between a full-on computer and a mobile device continue to blur.

  • The Jajah devs made this point just yesterday: http://digg.com/software/FreeSWITCH_Skypiax_Skype_For_All [digg.com]

    I highly recommend you check it out. We can use OSS software to force the *opolies to get with the times.

    www.freeswitch.com -MC -- See you at ClueCon! www.cluecon.com
  • My guess is that if the FCC declares that Skype has to be allowed to work over 3G too, AT&T will force Apple to drop it from the App Store so people won't be able to use Skype even on WiFi.

    So...not really a win.

    • And then the FCC will retaliate for culpable malfeasance.

      Taking your ball and going home doesn't work when you're using public airwaves, and there are people around with the persistence and the means to file proper complaints.

  • Unlimited Plan (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew&gmail,com> on Friday April 03, 2009 @07:24PM (#27452761) Homepage Journal

    I can certainly understand why AT&T doesn't want you to use Skype to circumvent using minutes if overage charges are their business model. However, they already grossly over charge on data, and many companies seem to be shifting to a $99.99 unlimited everything plan.

    Frankly, I think if you asked AT&T if they'd be happy if most of their customers paid $99.99 a month, they'd be thrilled, because it is vastly more than they pay now. And at the same time, if consumers have an unlimited everything plan, they why restrict how they use it? If they want to use Skype to call, as opposed to a normal phone call, then let them.

    Be the first company to have the smarts to enable your consumers, and watch consumers to flock to you.

  • Does anybody know why Amazon MP3 on Android will let you access song lists and even previews over the cell network, but forces you to download purchased songs over wifi? I suspect there are similar business shenanigans going on.
    • by DarkJC (810888)
      It's probably a carrier limitation in that case. Apple restricted iTunes Music downloads to Wifi only until an update sometime last year. AT&T was probably concerned about load on their network from people downloading MP3s over 3G so they told Apple to hold off on the feature until the craze over the iPhone 3G settled down and they had a gauge of how much bandwidth was being used by their clients.
  • 1. As much as I hate telecom companies, AT&T, like any other ISP, has the right to offer or not offer any particular service they want, with any terms they want. You, and everyone else, has the right to decide wether to purchase service from them.

    2. Skype is closed proprietary crap anyway. If you are gonna use VoIP, use real VoIP (eg, SIP).

    Disclaimer - I have an iPhone. I don't have AT&T service. I don't use Skype. I *do* use VoIP (and *have* tried a couple of iPhone SIP clients [Hint: They arent in

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