Skype Asks FCC to Open Up Cellular Networks

by Bruce Stewart

CNet has the scoop on Skype's recent petition to the FCC asking for the U.S. cellular carriers to open up their networks.

In a document dated February 20, Skype asked the FCC to apply to the wireless industry what is known as the "Carterfone" rules, which would allow consumers to use devices and software of their choice on cell phone networks.

Skype's motivations are clear. The company has created software that allows people to make free phone calls across the Internet. And now it wants users who access the Internet via a mobile device to be able to use their software and services, too.

"We want to allow our users to use the Skype software where ever they are," said Christopher Libertelli, senior director of government and regulatory affairs for Skype. "And we want to make sure the policy is set in the right direction so that when Skype users want to use it on mobile devices, they'll be able to."

I seriously doubt that anyone at Skype thinks the current FCC will grant this request, but you can't blame them for asking. This follows a recently-released report by Columbia University Law professor Tim Wu, Wireless Net Neutrality: Cellular Carterfone and Consumer Choice in Mobile Broadband, that also makes the argument that the historic Carterfone decision should be applied to the cellular networks.

It's hard to imagine how the application of Carterfone to the cellular industry wouldn't result in a big win for consumers. But that doesn't mean that Kevin Martin's telco-friendly FCC will act in the consumer interest.