While Skype is loving the fact that their app is spreading faster than girl germs in the toddlers playground, the FCC has been called to step in. The Free Press has expressed concern that wireless carriers were not abiding by the FCC’s Internet Policy Statement.
The advocacy group wrote to acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps, to require wireless carriers to allow consumers access to Skype via smartphones, as well as the ability to connect their devices to the Internet through tethering applications on their cell phones. To add to this, apparently, AT&T, Apple’s exclusive iPhone dealer in the U.S., wants to block the use of Skype on its 3G network, according to a report in USA Today.
Jim Cicconi, an AT&T public policy executive, considers Skype a competitor. He said that the telecommunications carrier had the right to forgo the facilitation of its competitors’ services. Included in the USA Today report, an Apple spokeswoman, Jennifer Bowcock, indicated the device maker limits third-party Internet phone applications for the iPhone and iPod to WiFi.
In the letter to the FCC, the Free Press feels the FCC needs to investigate violations of the Internet Policy Statement. Part of the letter is enclosed:
For two years, we have followed your leadership in raising concerns that wireless service providers appear to be engaging in activities that go against the Commission’s Internet Policy Statement by violating consumers’ right to run applications, use services, or attach devices of their choice over their broadband connections.
Recent reports about application blocking again raise these questions. Regardless of whether any particular incident would be found in violation of the law, the lingering uncertainty surrounding consumer rights on the Internet indicates the need for the Commission to clarify its rules. To resolve any alleged ambiguity raised by parties in earlier proceedings, the Commission should confirm that the Internet Policy Statement applies to wireless service providers that offer broadband Internet access service, as has been acknowledged in prior proceedings and statements of sitting Commissioners. Furthermore, the Commission should request more information on the extent of the wireless providers’ role in and their justifications for these widely-reported behaviors.