Some consumer advocates decry Skype’s iPhone limits

“Apple’s unique treatment of the new Skype Internet calling feature on the iPhone — the free app works only on Wi-Fi, not the cellular or 3G network — is raising concern among public-policymakers and consumer advocates,” Leslie Cauley reports for USA Today.

“They say it’s a clear example of AT&T, the sole carrier of the iPhone in the U.S., trying to handicap a direct competitor,” Cauley reports. “‘Consumers will pay the price for AT&T’s blocking,’ says Chris Murray, senior counsel to Consumers Union. By using Skype on the iPhone, consumers can sidestep AT&T, allowing them to get by, potentially, with cheaper voice plans that offer fewer minutes. Consumers can also save a bundle on international calls.”

“Technically, the limitation on Skype and other Internet phone companies is imposed by Apple, which has similar arrangements with other carriers,” Cauley reports. “Apple spokeswoman Jennifer Bowcock says the company ‘has always said’ that Internet phone applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch would be limited to Wi-Fi but declined to elaborate.”

MacDailyNews Note: Wi-Fi-only VoIP has been in the iPhone SDK since day one.

Cauley continues, “Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s top public policy executive, says AT&T has ‘every right’ not to promote the services of a wireless rival. ‘We absolutely expect our vendors’ — Apple, in this case — ‘not to facilitate the services of our competitors,’ he says. ‘Skype is a competitor, just like Verizon or Sprint or T-Mobile,’ he says, adding, Skype ‘has no obligation to market AT&T services. Why should the reverse be true?'”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Edward W.” for the heads up.]

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