FCC Pressed to Investigate Apple, AT&T Regarding Skype Over 3GS

Consumer activist group Free Press has asked the FCC to investigate AT&T's refusal to allow Skype to access its wireless network on the iPhone, instead restricting it to WiFi.

Free Press alleges that this restriction is "designed to cripple applications or hinder consumer choice for anticompetitive purposes," which would be an illegal practice. An AT&T spokesman replied that AT&T has "no obligation-nor should we have-to facilitate or subsidize our competitors' businesses."

The issue is part of Free Press's commitment to pursuing net neutrality across all platforms, and not really a way for iPhone users to shirk their voice bill. After all, iPhone plans include mandatory voice plans in addition to data, so the potential money saved would really only be significant for international or roaming calls. President Obama's FCC chairman nominee, Julius Genachowski, is a supporter of net neutrality, so the FCC may indeed act in Skype's favor as a symbolic gesture. But AT&T, despite their reputation, is not the faceless evil tyrant in this case: Certainly they should be allowed to protect their core business.

At the moment, the FCC has not responded, though it is highly likely they will investigate further. [Wall Street Journal]