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March 06, 2007

Skype on Mobiles

So here's an interesting little tale:

Skype Ltd. is looking to a 1968 ruling by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to open up the country's mobile phone industry for "unlocked" devices and third-party applications -- such as Skype.

The eBay Inc. unit, a pioneer in peer-to-peer VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol), petitioned the FCC this week to affirm that the landmark Carterphone decision applies to the cellular world. That ruling, which involved an early type of wireless handset, said carriers couldn't stop consumers from attaching any device to the wired telecommunications network as long as it couldn't do any damage.

Letting any device connect to cellular networks would gradually open the door to a wide range of new choices for consumers, including handsets that use VOIP for voice calls over operators' 3G (third-generation) data networks. Almost all cell phones in use on mobile networks in the U.S. are sold by the operators and locked so they can't be used on another provider's network. But Skype's proposal also would stop carriers from blocking or forbidding applications on 3G networks -- again, as long as those applications can't damage the network.

You can already get Skype phones that will pick up any wi fi network around, clearly, the technology is going to be generally available to use any data pipe to make phone calls. The question is whether the legal set up will allow it, not whether it can technically be done.

March 6, 2007 in Weblogs | Permalink


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