The Skype vs. Telcos situation is rapidly coming to a head, both in Europe and now in the US.  The Wall St. Journal reports:

The open-Internet advocacy group Free Press asked the Federal Communications Commission Friday to investigate whether Apple Inc. and AT&T Inc. are violating federal rules by blocking the use of a new low-cost Skype voice service on Apple iPhones that use AT&T’s 3G network

Wireless providers, such as Clearwire Corp., have successfully argued they should be able to prevent customers from using some bandwidth-hogging Internet services, like file-sharing, because their wireless networks have capacity issues.

But does Apple really care?

Perhaps they won’t be able to get the kind of subsidy money from AT&T that they currently enjoy?  If no one wants to pay $50 month for voice when they can get the same service from Skype for about a tenth of the price, AT&T is going to lose some revenue.  But that is the lone downside.  There are many upsides.

The upshot for Apple is that their iPhone products could be that much cooler if you could effectively have two or more phone lines connected to your iPhone via VoIP.  Or make SIP calls as a value add.  Hey, why not iChat voice calls.  Or video?  Or make reasonably priced international and roaming calls.  etc. etc.

In either case, it is AT&T that has everything to lose in this situation.  Apple will happily do whatever the FCC makes them do without suffering any consequences to its bottom line.

The end result if the FCC makes AT&T carry Skype calls (and forces them to sell data only plans) will likely be that data will be made to cost more to cover the expenses.

IT would be really nice if Apple just sold an open iPhone and let its customers figure out the best Data and/OR voice plan they wanted.

 

About the Author

Seth Weintraub's favorite gear