Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Skype Asks FCC to Open Cellular Networks

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the level-the-field dept.

Wireless Networking 292

Milwaukee's_Best writes "Skype has just asked the FCC to force wireless phone companies to open their networks to all comers. Skype essentially wants to turn the wireless phone companies into just another network of the kind currently operated on the ground. This would require carriers to allow any phone to be used on their networks, and for any application. Users would simply purchase a voice or data plan (though these could easily converge into a data plan if VoIP calling is used) and then use the device of their choice to access the network of their choice. Think of it as network neutrality for cell networks. Given the competition that exists within the industry, is this needed?"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

CNN HQ Stormed By Elite GNAA Operatives, Classifie (0, Troll)

GNAA-OWNS-YOUR-SOUL (1038750) | more than 7 years ago | (#18104938)

CNN HQ Stormed By Elite GNAA Operatives, Classified 9/11 Information Broadcast
CNN HQ Stormed By Elite GNAA Operatives, Classified 9/11 Information Broadcast
pagga (GNAP) - Manchester, Afghanistan

Following a covert infiltration of their Tel-Aviv headquarters by a crack team of elite GNAA agents, Zionist news organization CNN today publicly declassified top-secret information regarding the September 11 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, information which was until now actively supressed by the Zionist Occupied Governments of the West. Thousands of jewish viewers across America choked on their evening halvah (muslim babies) as, in a primetime broadcast, Paula Zahn (herself a latent jew) was forced at dongpoint to reveal the awful truth behind the 9/11 attacks which the rest of the civilized (read: non-judaic) world has long suspected: Jews Did WTC.

Fast-forwarding past the 1080p CP on the greasy HD-DVD handed to them by bedpan, the CNN production team played back the devastating GNAA-compiled footage whilst Paula Zahn held back a rectal prolapse to present their findings. Irrefutable proof from highly credible sources (such as regarded public information portals jewsdidwtc.com & Encyclopedia Dramatica) was disclosed in order to finally put an end to the debate. In the interests of equal representation, a token jew was present for the post-footage discussion, together with a panel of gay niggers.

In the unlikely event that you missed this historic broadcast, it has been archived at JewTube [youtube.com] .

Want to know more? See the proof for yourself @ http://www.jewsdidwtc.com [jewsdidwtc.com] and Encyclopedia Dramatica [encycloped...matica.com] .

About CNN:

Trolled


About GNAA:
GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) is the first organization which gathers GAY NIGGERS from all over America and abroad for one common goal - being GAY NIGGERS.

Are you GAY [klerck.org] ?
Are you a NIGGER [mugshots.org] ?
Are you a GAY NIGGER [gay-sex-access.com] ?

If you answered "Yes" to all of the above questions, then GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) might be exactly what you've been looking for!
Join GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) today, and enjoy all the benefits of being a full-time GNAA member.
GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) is the fastest-growing GAY NIGGER community with THOUSANDS of members all over United States of America and the World! You, too, can be a part of GNAA if you join today!

Why not? It's quick and easy - only 3 simple steps!
  • First, you have to obtain a copy of GAYNIGGERS FROM OUTER SPACE THE MOVIE [imdb.com] and watch it. You can download the movie [idge.net] (~130mb) using BitTorrent.
  • Second, you need to succeed in posting a GNAA First Post [wikipedia.org] on slashdot.org [slashdot.org] , a popular "news for trolls" website.
  • Third, you need to join the official GNAA irc channel #GNAA on irc.gnaa.us, and apply for membership.
Talk to one of the ops or any of the other members in the channel to sign up today! Upon submitting your application, you will be required to submit links to your successful First Post, and you will be tested on your knowledge of GAYNIGGERS FROM OUTER SPACE.

If you are having trouble locating #GNAA, the official GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA irc channel, you might be on a wrong irc network. The correct network is NiggerNET, and you can connect to irc.gnaa.us as our official server. Follow this link [irc] if you are using an irc client such as mIRC.

If you have mod points and would like to support GNAA, please moderate this post up.

.________________________________________________.
| ______________________________________._a,____ | Press contact:
| _______a_._______a_______aj#0s_____aWY!400.___ | Gary Niger
| __ad#7!!*P____a.d#0a____#!-_#0i___.#!__W#0#___ | gary_niger@gnaa.us [mailto]
| _j#'_.00#,___4#dP_"#,__j#,__0#Wi___*00P!_"#L,_ | GNAA Corporate Headquarters
| _"#ga#9!01___"#01__40,_"4Lj#!_4#g_________"01_ | 143 Rolloffle Avenue
| ________"#,___*@`__-N#____`___-!^_____________ | Tarzana, California 91356
| _________#1__________?________________________ |
| _________j1___________________________________ | All other inquiries:
| ____a,___jk_GAY_NIGGER_ASSOCIATION_OF_AMERICA_ | Enid Al-Punjabi
| ____!4yaa#l___________________________________ | enid_al_punjabi@gnaa.us [mailto]
| ______-"!^____________________________________ | GNAA World Headquarters
` _______________________________________________' 160-0023 Japan Tokyo-to Shinjuku-ku Nishi-Shinjuku 3-20-2

Copyright (c) 2003-2007 Gay Nigger Association of America [www.gnaa.us]

Investment? (-1, Troll)

seanismdotcom (746929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18104940)

So the cell phone companys invest into the networks and build them up and Skype wants use them for free? Iono I'm just trying to get first post....

As a free market libertarian, I vote against this. (5, Insightful)

wasabii (693236) | more than 7 years ago | (#18104962)

This is nothing but Skype trying to get the government to regulate a market for itself. If the cell provides saw business benefit in opening their network, they would do so. As it is now, they own the equipment because they paid to build it. They are free to do whatever they feel they can to capitalize on their investments. So as a humble user who wants to chat on IRC over a wireless carrier.... who am I to MANDATE to these sovereign owners any sorts of conditions?

Bah to this proposal!

Re:As a free market libertarian, I vote against th (4, Insightful)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105026)

If the cell provides saw business benefit in opening their network, they would do so.

And if Ford saw business benefit to requiring Ford Gasoline in their engines, they would want to do so as well. Or if they wanted to create the Ford Expressway, allowing only Fords to be driven upon it.

Skype is arguing that we'll have a better wireless system if we have an wholly integrated wireless system -- that the spectrum, as a common good, should be shared in an open manner.

This isn't exactly rocket science or "New Deal" style expansion of government power. It's a request for a federal agency to take a look at the market, and do what it is legislatively required to do.

(And you don't get a vote on this. The entire reason for the FCC is to insulate the descision about the airwaves from politics.)

Re:As a free market libertarian, I vote against th (1)

qbwiz (87077) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105152)

And if Ford saw business benefit to requiring Ford Gasoline in their engines, they would want to do so as well. Or if they wanted to create the Ford Expressway, allowing only Fords to be driven upon it.

It's seems unlikely that anyone would want to buy Ford cars, if they did that.

Markets are not free (enough) (4, Insightful)

grcumb (781340) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105240)

And if Ford saw business benefit to requiring Ford Gasoline in their engines, they would want to do so as well. Or if they wanted to create the Ford Expressway, allowing only Fords to be driven upon it.

It's seems unlikely that anyone would want to buy Ford cars, if they did that.

It does seem unusual, doesn't it, that consumers would continue to choose a product when it continually locks them in tighter and tighter to the MotherCorp? It is, alas, not at all unlikely. Standard Oil, Microsoft and AT&T are all textbook cases wherein people continue(d) buying a product that ultimately cost them more than the alternative.

The market is not free, practically speaking. There is a constant need to outside forces to provide a tempering influence on some of its worst excesses. Government is not a good candidate for this role, but it's the best available candidate, I'm afraid to say.

Re:As a free market libertarian, I vote against th (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105280)

What if your only choicies are a Ford and Ford gas or a Chevy and Chevy gas?

Re:As a free market libertarian, I vote against th (4, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105500)

Oh, I think they'd sell a lot of Fords. You just have to imagine the big picture of a Libertarian private roadway scenario.

Ford Expressways, GM Streets and Chrysler Highways are usually four lanes wide, nicely maintained and have a practical speed limit of 80 MPH, and cost $100 per month. Daewoo Roadways are constantly mocked by late-night TV comedians for being slow and narrow, and they almost never go exactly where you want them to, but they only cost $20 per month to use. Just for the elite, let's say Lamborghini has a small system of double-lane highly elevated roadways that let their drivers reach speeds of over 200 MPH, but cost in the neighborhood of $10,000 per month. For the many places they don't serve, they have an arrangement with the big three to let their drivers use their roads.

Finally, there are public access streets that are little more than overcrowded, rutted, muddy, pot-holed goat trails, but they're free. Because the motoring public shuns them, they never get enough funding to fix them up, and so they remain the last roadways available to the poor.

You'd most likely buy a Ford (or GM or Chrysler) because that's what the vast majority of ordinary people use, and the roads are both cost effective and superior to the cheaper alternatives. You'd probably pick a car manufacturer based on whose roads carried you closest to your home and work, and what kind of discounts the dealer was willing to throw in. (And Eric Raymond would be out there encouraging people to buy and drive road graders in their spare time, but now I've carried the analogy too far.)

Re:As a free market libertarian, I vote against th (4, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105618)

It's sort of a shame you used a car analogy because this being slashdot, everyone got on board with that. The really insightful part of your post, and the one that should be discussed is this:

the spectrum, as a common good, should be shared in an open manner.
That's the refutation to the argument that cell companies shouldn't play because they built the infrastructure. The deal is, they built the infrastructure on a property we all own. It reminds me of something I once heard Utah Phillips complain about (paraphrasing here): the federal government leases our assets to companies who then turn around and sell back to us the stuff we already own at a profit to themselves. He said it much better and more humurously.

Re:As a free market libertarian, I vote against th (2, Insightful)

vic-traill (1038742) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105642)

Bah - here come the arguments by analogy. Yegads!

But first, on topic stuff:

TFA notes that Skype's motivation is clear - to boldly place their traffic where its traffic has not gone before. Not argument here from me.

My understanding of regulation in the land-line telecommunications world is that it was driven by the desire to enable service additions and competition in a business where there were - and maybe still are - significant barriers to entry. It's expensive to get into the telecommunications business, and when long-standing infrastructure is in place, it makes sense to ensure access to that infrastructure is available to competitors, given fair remuneration for the incumbent. The alternative is duplication of infrastructure - for example, last mile cable - which is bone-headed and, as noted, expensive. Regulate for re-selling of that infrastructure. You get competition which is a Good Thing, which should be fair, encourage innovation, etc. and the incumbent opens an additional revenue stream via the re-sale.

I think it is a fair comment to say that these barriers are not the same for a wireless service. The physical transport - the atmosphere - is already there, so it's not a question of a barrier to entry as a result of cost, at least not in the same way or to the same extent as it is with land infrastructure.

However the spectrum is a shared medium - that's what removes the cost barrier above. Just because someone occupies that shared medium before you do, should they gain an element of exclusivity? I say no. Of course, everyone can start banging their service out over the spectrum, but this doesn't scale, I don't think. Sooner or later, we reach a limit on the co-occupation of the spectrum. I don't know enough about RF communications to know where or when this is, and as such I may get hammered here. If service providers can reasonably co-occupy the spectrum, then this house is made of cards and no doubt someone will tell me.

So if co-occupation if a problem, then a regulatory mechanism to force resale of infrastructure is reasonable.

But Skype doesn't want resale - it wants unencumbered use for customers on wireless networks so that its service can operate in this space. This desire sits at the core of net neutrality, and I'm for it. The service provider is paid for the user's access to the transport, and as long as this is the case, it's none of the service provider's business what I choose to put on the 'line'. You're getting paid for your minutes - don't tell me what I can or cannot say or do.

OT:

Re: arguing by analogy - I can hear the 'you must be new here comments', etc. already, but what the hell. Argument by analogy is attractive because it can help others understand the *concept* of what is being discussed or asserted. But it doesn't *prove* anything - it's just a method to clarify. And mainly, it just leads to people trying to talk about one thing by talking about something else. Predictably, this takes you, well ... somewhere else.

I'm not flaming here - but for god's sakes, what do Ford cars and Chevy highways have to do with Skye, net neutrality, or whatever? And moderators seem to encourage it - got a Good Analogy? That's +5: Insightful, baby! So you can't even configure your way out of it.

Re:As a free market libertarian, I vote against th (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105034)

So as a humble user who wants to chat on IRC over a wireless carrier.... who am I to MANDATE to these sovereign owners any sorts of conditions?

I'm with you, but proponents of this would argue that the FCC basically gave monopoly of a public resource (spectrum) to these companies for a finite amount of time, and in exchange, the companies would build a network to use that spectrum. After a period, allowing the companies to reoup their investment, the network would become open.

I don't think their respective investments have yet been recouped, though it would be nice to see a little more choice of carrier. Sprint/Verizon/Cingular customer service are all terrible.

Re:As a free market libertarian, I vote against th (3, Insightful)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105056)

The real question here is whether it is in the public interest to have a heavily fragmented market of incompatible cellular networking.

Yes, it is their equipment, but it would be illegal to use it on public airspace. Is it in our best interest to allow companies to sell back what was once a public commons?

Re:As a free market libertarian, I vote against th (4, Insightful)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105058)

If the cell provides saw business benefit in opening their network, they would do so.
Obviously. The whole point of regulation, however, is that if the only thing guiding your actions is "business benefit", it'll often lead you to trash the commons or screw people over some other way. For example, if dirty factories could save money by polluting less, we wouldn't need environmental regulations - but in fact polluting less tends to cost more, so we impose regulations to give them an incentive to do it.

Re:As a free market libertarian, I vote against th (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18105552)

Except pollution has another name: waste.

In fact, a number of companies discovered that "environmentally sound practices" (read: not wasting so much) saved them money

So why do we still need the EPA to force companies to save money? Because they're led by sociopaths that enjoy poisoning the "little people". Their day isn't complete until they've poured some toxic substance down the drain to further the divide between Them and Everyone Else. "Everyone Else" are not the upper crust of CEOs and top managers, they deserve to have their cancers and misery.

You'll hear them, sobbing about how it's so expensive to have to not pour their leftover chemical soup into the river and how the government is destroying capitalism.

I suggest that we abolish the EPA, and along with it, the social mandate that permitted companies to emit an acceptable level of poisons in exchange for whatever benefits we receive for those companies' existences, in turn charging the executives and employees of companies that leak the least whiff of toxic waste with felony assault by poisoning.

Libertarians (2, Interesting)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105122)

As a free market libertarian, I vote against this.

I lost all respect for Libertarians after I heard one complain about how his town wouldn't plow his private drive.

Unfortunately, we tried the "libertarian" take early on in the US; business used to be largely unregulated. What did they do with this freedom? Grossly abused the workforce- preferring to employ children and women, who had little socio-political power and thus were easy to control and work to death. Polluted the hell out of groundwater and rivers by dumping their byproducts whereever they pleased, consequences be damned. Today's working conditions are what they are, purely because the government has raised the bar (slowly) on how workers may be treated after public outcry forced legislation. We're not alone.

Maybe if you grew up in a state like Massachusetts where children died getting crushed by weaving machines in fabric mills, and where PCBs were dumped by GE into rivers simply because they COULD...well, maybe just then you'd feel a little differently about regulating industry. Hell, they recently found near the Alewife T station, on the cite of an old dye plant, that people who grew up in the area had cancer rates that were astronomically high. These people, as kids, played on the site- and many of them remember that the ground was so contaminated, puddles would form spontaneously in depressions in the ground that were every color of the rainbow.

You're spot on (0)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105208)


Excellent, well reasoned reply. Thank you.

Re:Libertarians (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105222)

Maybe if you grew up in a state like Massachusetts where children died getting crushed by weaving machines in fabric mills, and where PCBs were dumped by GE into rivers simply because they COULD...well, maybe just then you'd feel a little differently about regulating industry. Hell, they recently found near the Alewife T station, on the cite of an old dye plant, that people who grew up in the area had cancer rates that were astronomically high. These people, as kids, played on the site- and many of them remember that the ground was so contaminated, puddles would form spontaneously in depressions in the ground that were every color of the rainbow.
--
Next you'll tell us that today you drank the water from the tap.

Re:Libertarians (2, Informative)

Dlugar (124619) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105456)

Maybe if you grew up in a state like Massachusetts where children died getting crushed by weaving machines in fabric mills, and where PCBs were dumped by GE into rivers simply because they COULD...well, maybe just then you'd feel a little differently about regulating industry. Hell, they recently found near the Alewife T station, on the cite of an old dye plant, that people who grew up in the area had cancer rates that were astronomically high. These people, as kids, played on the site- and many of them remember that the ground was so contaminated, puddles would form spontaneously in depressions in the ground that were every color of the rainbow.

There are different shades of libertarians just as there are with many things in life. Many libertarians are not complete anarchists, however; they see the role of government as being important for market failures, such as pollution. Charging a pollution tax on the marginal cost of pollution would, in my opinion, completely compatible with a libertarian outlook.

I have no excuses for your hypocritical friend and his driveway, however.

Dlugar

Re:Libertarians (2, Interesting)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105662)

There are different shades of libertarians just as there are with many things in life. Many libertarians are not complete anarchists, however; they see the role of government as being important for market failures, such as pollution. Charging a pollution tax on the marginal cost of pollution would, in my opinion, completely compatible with a libertarian outlook.

As a "different shade of libertarian myself," I agree completely. The key is to not think of it as "evil government regulation," but instead as "accounting for externalized costs so that the free market has accurate information."

Re:Libertarians (1, Troll)

eht (8912) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105458)

Well thank goodness you keep electing a drunk murderer to senate to make all your problems go away.

woo karma

Drunk Murderers (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105544)

Well...not murder. Let's be fair to him. It was manslaughter. And very probably obstruction of justice after the fact. But not murder.

Re:Libertarians (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105554)

I dunno, Massachusetts seems to be doing pretty well. Despite people like you calling a car collision without saving the passenger "murder". But then, you voted to send the serial/mass murderer cokehead corporate theocrat to the White House twice, and look at how many problems that's created for Ted Kennedy to make go away.

Re:Libertarians (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105634)

Bush was a senator? And I thought he was a coke-head, not a drunk. The things you learn on /. Amazing.

Bush = Coke Head AND Drunk (1)

BlackGriffen (521856) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105698)

You've got the "best" of both worlds.

Don't you remember the clip from back around 2000 that showed Bush obviously drunk at a party in the 90s, a decade after he claimed to have gone dry? Or the DUI he had?

The evidence for Bush the alcoholic is more solid than for Bush the coke head.

Re:Libertarians (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18105586)

I lost all respect for Libertarians after I heard one complain about how his town wouldn't plow his private drive.

So you lost all respect for Libertarians when one person identifying him- or herself as a Libertarian made a single complaint. Of course, you have given no context for the complaint, so we have no way to determine the reasonableness of the complaint for ourselves. The end result here is an ad hominem argument apparently based on your own prejudices. Don't be surprised if you lose some respect here.

Grossly abused the workforce- preferring to employ children and women, who had little socio-political power and thus were easy to control and work to death.
We call them Mexicans now. Thank god for regulation!

Polluted the hell out of groundwater and rivers by dumping their byproducts whereever they pleased, consequences be damned.
Regulation means they are allowed to do this to an extent and cannot be sued. Yeah for regulation!

Today's working conditions are what they are, purely because the government has raised the bar (slowly) on how workers may be treated after public outcry forced legislation.
How exactly is this better than the same public choosing not to do business with said businesses? We end up with a lazier consumer class, a more powerful government, and corporations which - for the most part - are still motivated to do anything they can within (and sometimes without) the confines of the law. Where consumer activism would have given us corporations which realized they must act in socially acceptable ways, government only gives us corporations which can be extreme sociopaths as long as everything they are doing is legal.

who are you to MANDATE conditions? (1)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105198)

Obviously not someone comprehends the utility of opening access to a switched network built upon a ubiquitous public resource.

Re:who are you to MANDATE conditions? (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105232)

Obviously not someone comprehends the utility of opening access to a switched network built upon a ubiquitous public resource.

What resource is that? Sure, the airwaves are "owned" by all of society ... but last I heard it was the carriers who built out the equipment necessary to broadcast phone calls over them.

Re:who are you to MANDATE conditions? (4, Insightful)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105340)

True, but they couldn't have made a useful network without the government's assistance. If everyone was able to their own radio devices and broadcast one whatever frequencies they wanted then the airwaves would be a useless mess. The government has put regulations in place in order for radio to be a usable medium and exchange people and companies who are given license to broadcast on part of the spectrum have to play by the governments rules. It's a fair trade I'd say.

We have an anti-market, NOT a free market (5, Insightful)

mpesce (146930) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105206)

Please do not confuse a free market with an anti-market. Something that is as highly controlled (rightly or wrongly) as the radio spectrum doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of being a free market. This is, in fact, nearly the textbook definition of an anti-market, where economic entities collude with governments to retain market control.

If you want real free markets, then you don't regulate at all. No spectrum allocations, no power regulations, nothing. Of course, that's chaos. So what do we do? We use governmental institutions to balance the needs of all stakeholders. And Skype is quite definitely a stakeholder in this area.

Everyone, everywhere, needs more competition; that's not just a good idea, it's a Natural Law. Eventually, the telcos will learn this.

Re:We have an anti-market, NOT a free market (1)

wannasleep (668379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105666)

Furthermore, "free markets" are truly free only when there is competition. Free markets and deregulated markets are two different things. As a matter of fact, deregulated markets tend, over time, to create a monopoly or an oligopoly which can keep the market captive by having pricing power. Hence, to keep the market free, you have to regulate it to prevent one or few firms to gain market power. Ideally, the regulation should just level the playing field, not favor one player over another. This is micro-economy 101.

Re:As a free market libertarian, I vote against th (1)

rednip (186217) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105256)

If the cell provides saw business benefit in opening their network, they would do so.
A licensed oligopoly will be resistant to change.

who am I to MANDATE to these sovereign owners any sorts of conditions
Do they have sovereign rights over the public airwaves? I often wonder why people who claim 'free market' sentiments most often just seem to support the status quo. In reality they should be biding for the right to use the public airwaves in an open market every couple of years, just to maintain the best price for that limited resource. A true 'free market' would do that. While that would lead to the best valuation, and would allow new companies to start offering cell phone service, it would also lead to wide spread outages, constant 'churn', and likely higher prices for consumers (new equipment, higher spectrum costs, constant deployments etc). Sure telecomm manufacturers would flourish, but I don't think that it would be better overall.

In reality we are not talking about allowing the free market to exist, but debating the point at which the free market begins. Personally, I say "let Skype enter the cell phone provider market". It seems to work for local phone service, electric, natural gas, garbage collection, and many other public services, why not cellular?

Re:As a free market libertarian, I vote against th (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105294)

does skype state they only want access, or, if you RTFA you'd see it says "open to all comers". you can't get more free market then that.

Re:As a free market libertarian, I vote against th (1)

tpayne089 (1067076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105324)

I'm trained formally, as an economist, and I think these kinds of issues come down pretty much like this: My assumptions: 1) Wireless phones are a good thing for society because they lower the cost of transmitting information. 2) It requires lots of capital to produce an effective national wireless system. 3) No one likes risk and they will require profitable compensation on the matter. 4) Persons who build national wireless networks assume lots of risk, because building networks is a speculative endeavor. ----- Supplementary to assumptions: 3) & 4) - are patently economic axioms, so I'm not going to belabour those. 1) - Whether cell phones use is transmitting information, or setting of car bombs, I don't think anyone will dispute how useful the technology is. Systemtically, we must accept the cell-phone network as equally useful. 2) - This is largely empirically driven: if you don't believe it's costly, feel free to examine the last ten years of Verizon Wirelessess cash flows and income statements. ----- My analysis of this situation: Given my set of assumptions, I think the lynchpin of this situation isn't a discussion of "free-markets," and defending the rights of the networks. This isn't to say we must open them -- but at least think about what that would mean. Society benefits currently from these networks. Let's say 40 million persons in the USA have cell-phone contracts. They happily pay and engage in these contracts deriving benefit. Let's say the network providers, after operating and deprecation, re-invest 30% of their profits into expanding their network. They re-invest to expand and improve their network. Why would they do this: to expand market share, and continue to increase their levels of revenues. The network providers have little interest in decreasing marginal profits, and they seek to avoid these situations. This doesn't make them evil: this is simply a function of what they are definitionally. There is no benevolent free cell-phone network, not yet at least.... Network providers, are also, members of society. This isn't some kind of Enlightment-Era social contract argument, but just opening the door to the possibilities of government intervention. [Now I trot out my economics tool-box]: Let's suppose, of the 40 million subscribers, every user generates 1 use-point when they use their phone in their daily life over the course of the year. All cell-phone subscribers use their phones in many different ways and in many different contexts. Cell-phone subscribers also pay different prices for their contracts and add-ons across providers. Let's bracket that off, and simply say the average of the 40 million is $40 a month for their 1 use-point. Every year society gets 40 million use points from cell-phones. How do we know people get use points? They pay their bills and limit their consumption of other goods. (By my estimates, $40/$8.99 = many drunken nights on cheap beer, which is my equivalent metric of consumption). Let's suppose, government regulation opens up these networks and lets them retain a "fair" profit. This seems to be pretty common in the United States. I'm from Illinois, and our government regulates our nuclear power from ComEd by some kind of legislative process. In Massachusetts, I think the result will be the following (and this is based on supply & demand reasoning from economic axioms): Let's say this reduction means that providers go from 30% re-investment, as earlier, to 15% re-investment to maintain marginal profits. Simply put: 15% of their expansionary profit-base has been sliced away in the bargaining process. 1) Increased competition = Less monthly costs for contract 2) Decreased revenues = Lower profits then network providers forecasted on 3) Network providers cut back on network maintance, advertising, and labor pool to buoy company. 4) Previously constricted consumers sign up for cheaper plans from 1). It's 4) that's critical here. Suppose the quality of our network stood still or grew at a much slower rate -- counterpose this result with 80 million cell-phone users. Which world is in a better state? I know slashdotters get in a tizzy with free-markets and free-information and Duke Nukem Forever; but the point of these kinds of question oughn't be about defending an ideology, but evaluating the efficency of a possible change in our society

Re:As a free market libertarian, I vote against th (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105498)

If you're in favor of a free market, maybe we should open up the radio spectrum for anyone to broadcast whatever they want, and maybe we should let everyone put data networks wherever they want whenever they want however they want.

Of course, when your street has been dug up for the 5th time to lay down cable, or cable hasn't been laid at all because the investment isn't worth the risk without some guarantee of a semi-monopoly, and when your local police departments, ambulances, and TV stations can't get a signal through all the interference, your opinion might change.

If there's one part of the private sector that I think the needs governmental regulation these days, it's our data infrastructure. Our ability to connect to the internet and communicate is becoming too important to have a company hindering the progress, dragging their feet, because they haven't figured out how change will effect their bottom line.

Since You're Not, Will You Vote For It? (1, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105520)

"Free market libertarian" wants to let the AT&T/Verizon(/Qwest) cartel sell themselves access at puny wholesale rates, but competitors should pay prohibitively inflated retail? Similarly huge-scale competitors like the other 2 of the 3 can equalize roaming charges, but small competitors will never afford to get access?

Libertarians are people who believe in the minimum government possible, but no less. Free marketeers are people who believe that markets work best with the fewest barriers to competition. Free market libertarians recognize that people create governments as our only remedy to monopoly market abuse.

The term you're searching for to describe yourself is "monopolist corporate greedhead".

Re:As a free market libertarian, I vote against th (1)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105536)

who am I to MANDATE to these sovereign owners any sorts of conditions
Can we get a +1 for the best sarcasm ever? It was rather deft of him to not
even mention the word consumer and say this.

Re:As a free market libertarian, I vote against th (1)

mijkal (309880) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105540)

And I say as a libertarian, you need to recognize that the telecom and other industries in the USA are NOT a free-market, and if the gov't is going to give the telecoms exclusive rights (by limiting radio spectrum licensing or granting geographical monopolies), then those companies must open up that infrastructure to others for there to be competition. I realize that, economically, some things make sense for such monopolies to reduce having to unnecessary redundancy of infrastructure, but if those same companies are then able to sell services on those lines, then there's a huge problem. And that's exactly what we have now. Let's make infrastructure companies prohibited from offering services (they can only resell to other companies offering the end-services); then we can have true competition, much closer to a free-market.

Re:As a free market libertarian, I vote against th (4, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105570)

If the cell provides saw business benefit in opening their network, they would do so.

This is exactly why America has, IMO, the most retarded mobile communications systems in the world. From the article:

Skype essentially wants to turn the wireless phone companies into just another network of the kind currently operated on the ground. This would require carriers to allow any phone to be used on their networks, and for any application. Users would simply purchase a voice or data plan (though these could easily converge into a data plan if VoIP calling is used) and then use the device of their choice to access the network of their choice. Verizon, Cingular, et al. hate this and would love to keep crippling WiFi and Bluetooth access on their phones in order to keep traffic flowing through their network, using their (high-priced) services.

Here in Europe there are organizations that keep the playing field level, by forcing mobile service providers to do just what Skype asks. Here it doesn't really matter which provider you chose; the're all good because they all have to compete in the same playing field. Why should it matter for a provider what 'type' of data is sent over their network, and by what device this data is sent? Data is data, and the more bits they transport the more money they get. Apparently in America this isn't so. Amazing.

(No Subject) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18104966)

Skype wants to take over and cause T4

go go go (2, Insightful)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18104970)

Skype essentially wants to turn the wireless phone companies into just another network of the kind currently operated on the ground.

Yes, and the kind currently operated on the ground are facing a dead-end business model.

Re:go go go (1)

hakubi (666291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105070)

Yes, and the kind currently operated on the ground are facing a dead-end business model.

Seriously? You mean that DSL and cable are on their way out? Land operators have numerous sources of revenue aside from voice. And if I remember correctly the FCC just said that on average we're paying several times the amount of other industrialized nations for internet access.

Yes. This benefits them. But more importantly it benefits consumers and would create an open system more akin to what is standard in the rest of the world.

Re:go go go (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105120)

Seriously? You mean that DSL and cable are on their way out?

No, I mean that traditional phone service is on its way out, and internet access is on the high road to becoming a commodity business (i.e. limited profit potential except through volume and organizational efficiency enhancement.)

Just to clarify a commodity business is a completely different ballgame than a premium business, which is what the current wireless industry is.

Re:go go go (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105370)

And that is completely aside from the point. The reason land lines are on their way out is because of the convenience of cell phones, not because of the closed cell phone networks.

Please regulate openness (5, Insightful)

elronxenu (117773) | more than 7 years ago | (#18104992)

Sounds like a great idea.

Skype should go first, by documenting their protocols and allowing 3rd party clients to connect to the Skype network.

Re:Please regulate openness (5, Insightful)

wallior (617195) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105044)

Completely agree. This request is disgustingly hypocritical. In Australia and UK (I think UK) Hutchison (3) will eventually used Skype for data calls across their network. You can bet that Skype won't be pushing for openness on these networks.

Re:Please regulate openness (2, Interesting)

danamln (871842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105190)

the fcc should apply the same standard opening both networks and then maybe we can manufacture phones that recognize each other instead of needing a network at all. I can't wait for the day when my cell phone play six degrees of seperation to find the person I'm calling before acsessing any network.

Re:Please regulate openness (1)

matts-reign (824586) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105330)

And what happens when my cell phone battery dies from everybody relaying their signal off mine? Or when somebody acts as a malicious relay? Encryption isn't perfect. However, being able to directly connect to each other isn't such a bad idea. The best thing I think is the ability to use wifi access point in place of the cell network, as some phones already can.

Re:Please regulate openness (1)

xigxag (167441) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105318)

Skype hasn't been awarded exclusive control over a portion of public spectrum. Ergo, no comparison. What you're calling the "Skype network" is in fact the internet itself, hence VoIP.

Re:Please regulate openness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18105416)

Should Skype be granted access to the cellular networks, then they too would benefit from exclusively used public spectrum, so the same rules of openness would have to apply to the Skype system. Instead of telling the cellular providers "you first", Skype, as the party who wants change, should lead by example if they require openness from others.

Cartel? (3, Interesting)

thesupermikey (220055) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105006)

I'm I right in understanding that the way cell phone companies control their towers now, I to call it a cartel?

Additionally, the cellphone makers are leasing public property (the airwaves) and building a fence around them to keep the public out (unless you buy a key / plan from them)

Are these metaphors off base?

Re:Cartel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18105082)

Prices aren't increasing considering the value the customer gets! Customers don't want to have to pay more for pointless regulatory expenses! The government is just after a profitable business because they all want to tax and spend! Quality will drop if real competition is introduced!

You can't prove anything!

Re:Cartel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18105126)

No, OPEC is a cartel. http://www.google.com/search?source=ig&hl=en&q=def ine%3Acartel [google.com]

It would be like all of the Cell Networks (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, etc.) banded together to mandate certain things (like the price of oil).

As it is, certain companies, such as Verizon and Altel enter into agreements so that they can use each others networks when one does not exist of their own (the so-called "Extended Network"), but they otherwise use their own networks when they can. Also, there is pretty big competition within the industry, and prices are slowly coming down with more features to boot.

If it were a cartel, then they'd all have the same plans (oil) for the same price, and they would not openly compete with each other in the open market (ads that attack each other). Not to mention there would be almost no innovation or increased features in existing plans (such as T-Mobile adding the "5 Friends" that can be on any network that do not count against your minutes) and prices definitely would not be coming down, and maybe even be going up with increased demand.

I'm looking most forward to the day when U.S. cell providers stop charging our minutes for received phone calls, like the land lines.

Also, the cell phone networks are forced to build their own cell phone towers themselves, so it makes sense that you should have to buy from them to use them.

The whole reason Skype wants this is because they think there is an obvious argument for it because the whole wired phone lines already went through this mess, and they benefit immensely by not having to pay anything, but by being able to use the towers--it's great for Skype, but totally unfair to these companies that are putting down these towers to cover the area. However, I do believe there is a difference because I think that AT&T had put so many lines down in places that they /have/ to go, that by not allowing others to use the lines, then they were blocking them from even offering service to the area even if they wanted too. Wireless cell towers are obviously different.

Re:Cartel? (1)

Doppler00 (534739) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105184)

Not to mention there would be almost no innovation or increased features in existing plans (such as T-Mobile adding the "5 Friends" that can be on any network that do not count against your minutes) and prices definitely would not be coming down, and maybe even be going up with increased demand."

Oh please... innovation is completely non-existent in cellphone networks. My cellphone plan has cost roughly $40-$60 month for the last 6 years with the following results:

* Audio quality remains below POTS despite higher bandwidth of cell towers in many areas
* Still based on charging you random fees on text messages, pictures, videos, ring tones, when they are all simply raw data
* 3G roll out in U.S. is almost non-existent
* Locked down phones, so software developers cannot innovate on them

What I consider innovation?
* Higher voice quality
* Higher QoS
* Better data plans

Re:Cartel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18105604)

Have you tried switching carriers?

I have had very high voice quality with Cingular, with the exception of a slight "hiss" of static that is in the background that does not exist with Verizon (they do some sort of static noise cancelling).

I used to have Verizon, but I switched because of bad service and horrible customer service.

I don't use data plans, so I have never really looked at them, but I would like to see some sort of unlimited Txt messages plan from a big-name carrier, but as it is, I only send out like 10 Txt messages per month with a max of 100 before I get added fees.

Also, I don't want to pretend like I believe the cell phone companies are innovating as fast as they can, but I also understand that they really can only do so much before they are taking more of a loss than a profit. However, I do have to add that switching from Verizon to Cingular was not only completely hassle free (they even let me keep my address book on my new phone thanks to some computer in the back room), but it also saved me a few bucks from month to month.

Re:Cartel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18105390)

Yes because the already paid the people of the U.S. for that use by paying the airwaves from the goverenment for their use. If they abuse that use they can have their wavelength taken away I believe.

"Network Neutrality"? I call BS (4, Insightful)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105010)

"Network neutrality" in the case of the Internet is about customers' traffic getting the usual "common carrier" treatment. In the case of the Skype proposal, it's nothing less than an attempt to get something (access to cell towers and related equipment) for nothing (without having to pay for it). The writeup is both disturbing and misleading.

Re:"Network Neutrality"? I call BS (1)

errxn (108621) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105050)

The writeup is both disturbing and misleading.
You must be new here.

Re:"Network Neutrality"? I call BS (1)

GlitchyBits (1066840) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105268)

Actually, you can't talk about network neutrality with cellphone networks since they were not designed in such a goal. I don't think that the internet would be what it is today (almost neutral) if it was first designed, developped, used as a commercial base by two or three companies.

Ok, skype tries to get something for nothing, but if it initiates a change in the way gsm (and above) networks are used ... why not ? To my mind, these networks are not used to their full potential ...

Re:"Network Neutrality"? I call BS (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105326)

I couldn't find anything in the linked article that says Skype wants to use the cellular system "for nothing," anymore than, say, a DSL ISP links up to the Internet for nothing. "Opening" doesn't equal "make it free" as in beer but rather "give us a way to access your system with our software." In fact, that would be a bad thing for Skype because if the system was open and cost nothing to use then industrious open-source people could create their own software (given the necessary "open" hardware/OS) to allow people free phone/data service. That would pretty much put Skype AND the companies maintaining the cellular infrastructure out of business.

Competition? (5, Insightful)

ShaunC (203807) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105018)

Given the competition that exists within the industry, is this needed?

Competition? As in where I get to choose from one of [Verizon|Cingular|Sprint], all of which charge mostly the same, and whichever one I pick, I'm either stuck with them for 2 years or stuck paying exorbitant fees to "fire" them and switch to one of their clones? I'm intentionally glossing over the prepaid services (Virgin Mobile, for example) because they tend to piggyback on other carriers' networks (Virgin is actually Sprint's network, so in essence if you use Virgin Mobile, you're really using Sprint).

Saying there's real competition in the wireless industry is like saying that because Sony, BMG, and Warner all make CDs, there's "real competition" in that industry. Cable companies were forced to accept all comers (see Time Warner's cables being used by Earthlink, often at a lower fee than TW's RoadRunner service) - and hell, my cable company doesn't even lock me into a 2-year contract...

Re:Competition? (1)

Cloud 9 (42467) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105064)

Nobody's forcing you into a contract. Just pay full price for your own equipment and pay extra for the N&W minutes and in-network calling.

Doesn't sound like such a bad deal now, does it?

Re:Competition? (2, Informative)

profplump (309017) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105196)

They won't let me bring in my own equipment. I've tried. They won't even let me re-activate equipment that I bought from them and which is still 100% compatible with their network. I've tried that too.

If you know of a carrier who will allow me to buy my own equipment (not buy new equipment from them) I'd be happy to do just as you suggest. Until then it's contracts with ridiculous fees or a requirement that I buy the newest, fanciest equipment at a price they dictate without any competition. Suggesting that the later doesn't carry the same financial disadvantages as the former because there's "no contract" is ignorant at best.

Re:Competition? (4, Interesting)

WafflesMcDuff (791660) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105408)

If they didn't allow you to activate a handset that you say is 100% compatible, then I can almost certainly guess what the problem was. A few years back the FCC passed a law requiring all cell phones being activated to be cell 911-compliant. Basically these newer phones contained the ability to automatically connect you to the correct 911 call center when you dial 911 to make sure the emergency services get to you in time. (without this you may as well be calling Delouth Minnesota's call center from New York City). They allowed phones that were ALREADY active without this ability to remain active, as it was deemed unfair to customers to make them go out and buy a new handset against their will all of a sudden. So as long as grandma keeps paying her bill she can keep that brick that sits disused in her drawer active. However, if she deactivates it and then decides she wants it again after all, she will now have to go buy a new phone (or get a free one with a 2 year contract). In reality, your handset is probably 90% compatible with the other 10% being the 911 accessibility that is mandated by law to activate a handset.

Re:Competition? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18105144)

I don't know about you, but the "mostly the same" they all charge is pretty cheap these days. I don't have a land line, and I pay less for my cell service than anyone I know pays for a land line. I get free incoming calls, unlimited nights and weekends, and at least 1000 minutes a month (I'm not sure of the exact number because I never get close to using it, what with the free incoming calls and nights and weekends). Last time I renewed my contract, my cell carrier even informed me of another plan that charged $.05 less than the one I was on and gave me more minutes. I was in process of renewing my old plan. Other than courtesy, they had no incentive to do that, unless they want to lose 5 cents a month. I get great service, great reception, and low fees. I think the competition in the cell phone industry has been great.

The reason they all charge "about the same" is that that's the value most consumers place on cell phone service. Who can fault them for that? Should they give it to you?

BTW: I'm not on any of the carriers you mentioned, hurray for the competition you don't believe exists, and I don't work for a cell phone company. I'm just a very satisfied customer.

Re:Competition? (1)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105630)

I've always wondered how such a model managed to survive for so long in the US. Mainly because the US has a habit of building market models that are very cheap for the consumer. Seems to be the exception with phones.

In Ireland for example I just buy my phone (cheapest good phone $52) that comes with $105 free credit. The phone isn't normally locked to the SIM and if it is you just get it unlocked. A new SIM is $6 and you basically preload your sim with the credit beforehand. I've had my current phone for over a year and only spent $40 total in fees (not including the free credit), and that is with full web access. I still have around $23 left on the phone.

England is not that much different if I recall correctly.

SIMD cards? (1)

acidrain (35064) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105668)

Canada has the same problem in general. E.g. $50 a month with few features and limited airtime. But recently I went travelling and discovered SIMD cards. In Bali you can get a prepaid SIMD phone number with no contract for $2, and additional minutes are about 10c, a text is 2.5c. So I did some digging and discovered two of the carriers also sold pay as you go SIMD in Canada, and now I'm paying about $10 a month, although I do only use that phone to coordinate meeting up with people. Anyway, they just don't advertise this kind of thing, you have to know what to ask for, but seeing that the rest of the world works this way, they do sell them. Anyone find anything like this in the US? Surely they can't be screwing over an entire country like that?

It would be intersting (1)

Shambhu (198415) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105022)

I'm not ready to say that the FCC _should_ do this, but it would be interesting. It would be cool if you could use some sort of universal id and use whichever network was currently present or was the best one to use (signal strength, price, TOS, etc). A good handset would handle it automatically according to your preferences.

Please excuse the hubris of the next paragraph.

Just for the heck of it, should such a market come to pass in this or any other country, and should someone get the idea to create a device that automatically negotiates (whether passively or interactively) a contract with a provider, this post is prior art on any patent describing such a device.

Free ride for Skype? (2, Interesting)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105040)

This article seems to be a mishmash of specious and self-serving claims on Skype's part.

The reason for Skype's interest in the issue is obvious: they want to force network operators to allow Skype-enabled calling across their networks, something currently prohibited on wireless data plans. In its filing, Skype argues that this capability would offer "tremendous new sources of price competition provided by entities such as Skype," and that's exactly why wireless operators will fight the plan tooth and nail.

And the problem here is exactly what? It sounds to me like Skype is saying, "Hey guys, if you let us use your networks we'll undercut all your prices and undermine your business models. Then all that money you spent to build out your cellular networks will benefit us instead of you! Deal?"

Unfortunately, the "invisible hand" has been a little too invisble here, and no operator actually offers a wide-open network. Skype thinks a smidgen of government regulation could actually help out quite a bit

No doubt it would. They're trying it in Venezuela. What's the basis for doing it here? Why should Skype benefit and the cellular carriers gain nothing?

Skype (and Wu's paper) point out the various ways that the wireless phone companies block consumer choice: crippling features on phones, locking handsets to operators, limiting consumers' ability to install third-party applications, and limiting the terms of service with bandwidth caps and restrictions on what content can be accessed through the network (Skype calls are forbidden, for instance).

"Block consumer choice" is an interesting choice of wording here. I've heard most of these complaints before. Then again, T-Mobile allows me to install third-party apps on my BlackBerry, and I can even use it as a wireless modem if I hook it up to my laptop. Presumably I could then run Skype on the laptop (though how well it would work is another story). Kinda makes me wonder what Skype is actually hoping to achieve.

Verizon, Cingular, et al. hate this and would love to keep crippling WiFi and Bluetooth access on their phones in order to keep traffic flowing through their network, using their (high-priced) services.

What do WiFi and Bluetooth have to do with running Skype over a cellular network? This sounds like a red herring to allow them to start talking about "crippling" again. How have the carriers "crippled" their WiFi-enabled phones anyway? This one I have not heard of.

And they manage to avoid the most important question: If Skype is encouraging the government to pass regulation to allow Skype into the telcos' markets, can we therefore assume that Skype is willing to itself be regulated, exactly as the telcos are regulated today?

Re:Free ride for Skype? (2, Insightful)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105116)

And the problem here is exactly what? It sounds to me like Skype is saying, "Hey guys, if you let us use your networks we'll undercut all your prices and undermine your business models. Then all that money you spent to build out your cellular networks will benefit us instead of you! Deal?"
I don't think so. It looks like they just want the carriers to stop restricting equipment and applications. The carriers would still charge for access to the network, kilobyte usage, etc. but without any limitations on which phones you can activate or what you can do with the kilobytes you're paying for.

Re:Free ride for Skype? (4, Insightful)

zarthrag (650912) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105174)

What do WiFi and Bluetooth have to do with running Skype over a cellular network? This sounds like a red herring to allow them to start talking about "crippling" again. How have the carriers "crippled" their WiFi-enabled phones anyway? This one I have not heard of.

By disabling features such as OBEX push/file transfer, you can be kept from sending files directly from one phone to another, or another computer...without using your cellular modem (possibly at a per-KB rate). Moving pictures/video from your camera would then become a costly affair if you actually use that feature often.

Wifi generally cannot be used for voip at all. This isn't necessairly crippling, but a complete oversight of what consumers want. I have a wireless network at home, why can't my phone support using it instead of a per-minute rate when I'm here, or at work, or at the bookstore.

By opening the network, device makers can be free to innovate in ways that will make the iPhone look like a turd on the sidewalk.

Re:Free ride for Skype? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105478)

Wifi generally cannot be used for voip at all. This isn't necessairly crippling, but a complete oversight of what consumers want. I have a wireless network at home, why can't my phone support using it instead of a per-minute rate when I'm here, or at work, or at the bookstore.

Soon phones will, but you'll still eat out of your monthly minute bucket. Why? Because even though you're not using a tower, you're still using the cell provider's central switching equipment to terminate the call somewhere. And if you're dialing outbound, the provider has to pay to terminate that call at a per minute/per second rate (depends greatly on contracts with termination providers).

Re:Free ride for Skype? (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105526)

Wifi generally cannot be used for voip at all. This isn't necessairly crippling, but a complete oversight of what consumers want. I have a wireless network at home, why can't my phone support using it instead of a per-minute rate when I'm here, or at work, or at the bookstore.

Soon phones will, but you'll still eat out of your monthly minute bucket. Why? Because even though you're not using a tower, you're still using the cell provider's central switching equipment to terminate the call somewhere. And if you're dialing outbound, the provider has to pay to terminate that call at a per minute/per second rate (depends greatly on contracts with termination providers).

Unless you're calling another VOIP phone. In that case, you're only using the provider's system to set up the connection to the remote phone (session initiation). After that, the session would be direct from phone to phone via the Internet, with no need to involve either phone service carrier.

Re:Free ride for Skype? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105562)

True. But until a critical mass is reached and a fair amount of users can have their calls passed phone to phone directly, termination costs are still going to be an issue.

Re:Free ride for Skype? (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105690)

True. But until a critical mass is reached and a fair amount of users can have their calls passed phone to phone directly, termination costs are still going to be an issue.

If the network were really open, you could buy that service from another provider, like Vonage, or Skype.

Re:Free ride for Skype? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18105684)

Of course WiFi can be used from a cell phone for voice calling. I'm using it exclusively in my house now as an extension to an IP PBX - i route incoming PBX calls either over WiFi or over the cellular network, depending if i'm in or out of the house, saving on minutes (and my carriers exorbitant international calling rates).

Tmobile is trialing a dual-mode service that pins calls to the mobile network - there are many companies trying to get this technology in the carrier's networks (not just roaming, but handover). They've been at it for years, and it's happening.

Re:Free ride for Skype? (1)

BStriddy (1025674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105288)

T-Mobile allows me to install third-party apps on my BlackBerry

Wait... is the Blackberry yours or T-Mobile's? Because if it's yours, then how is it that they allow you to install apps on it?

I promise you, there are real innovations that get quashed by providers, not the least of which is T-Mobile. Often because they know it will be successful and therefore drive up usage of their network. Usage that doesn't have a higher profit margin that straight data. They should be charging for the service they provide: data transfer. If they want to sell apps and services too, charge for those. Seems to me that a level playing field for services based on data networks is a fair trade for the public's radio spectrum used to create those networks.

Skype over the mobile networks? It can be done. (1)

lokedhs (672255) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105532)

Have you heard about the Nokia E62 [nokiausa.com] ?

Do you realise that the hardware in this phone is identical to the Nokia E61 [nokia.com] ?

The major difference between these two models (apart from the frequencies and those things) is that the WLAN (802.11g) support is disabled on the E62. I'll let you speculate why that is.

I have an E61. I also have an unlimited 3G data plan with my provider. I can use Fring [fring.com] to make Skype voice calls over the data connection, either using 3G or WLAN.

Now, ask yourself the following: Why is this impossible to do in the US, when it's possible in most of the rest of the world?

Expensive Data Transfer (3, Interesting)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105068)

I've often wondered why data sent through the mobile networks (voice, internet etc) is so much more expensive than land based traffic. I mean you wouldn't sit around browsing the web over a mobile phone, even if it did have a huge screen, since you'd go bankrupt. Surely it costs more to dig up a whole city and lay cable than it does to erect some mobile masts, so why is data transferred by cable so much cheaper? Also aside from the initial expense of digging up a city, surely maintenance is more expensive for cable companies since it also involves digging and disrupting traffic etc. It seems to me that we are being massively ripped off.

Re:Expensive Data Transfer (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105264)

I sit around browsing the web with my mobile phone all the time. I even hook my laptop up to it and surf the web at decent speeds. I can even watch videos on YouTube. The latency is horrible, but what can I really expect from a reasonably immature form of network connectivity? Sure, I pay a pretty penny for my "Unlimited Phone As Modem" plan from Sprint, but it's not *that* badly priced compared to an equivalent land-line telephone & network service.

Prices do need to come down. Speeds do need to go up. Most importantly, latency needs to come way down. But... usable cellular data services do exist.

Re:Expensive Data Transfer (4, Insightful)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105342)

Supply and demand.

There is only so much bandwidth available on a cellular system, as the frequencies at which you may transmit are limited (extremely limited, I might add).

The frequencies sent over cables are not regulated, so you can multiplex to your heart's content and achieve massive bandwidth that way. (It also helps that there's much less interference and loss in wired communication.)

The reason the wireless phone service price hasn't changed is because if it got any cheaper, the network would become saturated because people wouldn't self-limit their phone usage as much. The reason that all phone companies charge about the same is more due to the physics of radio communication than collusion. I guarantee that if Cingular could charge half of what they do and still make a profit, they would, because they'd put all the others out of business, and it's a very competitive market.

The phone companies know exactly how many users they can support at what data rates down to insane degrees of accuracy. There are ugly equations with many logarithms and square roots in them that tell them this.

For example, you can determine, based on the frequencies you're allocated and how you're multiplexing your users' data, what signal-to-interference ratio you need to support 336 users with a 2% chance of a dropped call during the peak usage hour.

The problem is, you can't just add network capacity without limit. It's a tradeoff between cell size, signal strength, and interference. Decreasing cell size might give you the ability to support more users, but you'll also have to decrease the signal strength at the same time or you'll just be adding interference. Using directional antennas will help with the interference problem, but you'll have to handle many more hand-offs and overall QoS may suffer.

Whereas, with wired communication, if you have one wire and then you add another, you've just doubled your bandwidth. Wireless is a much more limited resource, and always will be.

Open the Market (1)

thesuperbigfrog (715362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105128)

Opening up the cellular phone networks would probably upset carriers, but consumers would benefit tremendously. Why should I have to buy a phone that only works on the Cingular network or only on the Verizon network? Carriers would be angry because it would force them to be competitive.

While we're at it, why not kill all of the stupid one or two year service agreements. These also seem to benefit only the carriers and stifle the market. The current state of the cellular phone market is designed to only benefit carriers. Consumers suffer as carriers pat themselves on the back thinking that their customers are happy.

is this needed? (1)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105132)

is this needed?
I didn't know I wanted it, but now I do.

no competition (4, Insightful)

Brat Food (9397) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105150)

I personally dont think theres any cell phone competition in the US.

I mean look, my cell phone bill has never /really/ gone down. My minutes have gone up slightly for the price, but with the ubiquity, thats the least they could do.

These guys charge for things that barely use infrastructure thats already up (10c a text message? cmon).

They dont compete directly on price either. Or service. You can never have it all with these guys, its al a carte and they take you to the bank.

They neuter phones, and find other great ways to take your money.

If there was competition, wed all be paying $40 or less for /every/ feature.

If the cell band opens up, the cell companies are screwed. People will come along and offer service and make a reasonable profit for 1/4 of the prices offered now.

Sorry for the tired, bitter, rant.

Re:no competition (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105380)

It's not quite that bad. They suck, but they also spend quite a lot of money not sharing infrastructure, so I don't really see how yet another network(thats what opening the cell bands means right?) is going to do me any good.

I think half the problem is that people happily line up to eat the shit they are shoveling, they don't need to compete(much; in network calling is making lots of people pretty happy).

competitive industry? (3, Interesting)

JimBobJoe (2758) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105156)

Given the competition that exists within the industry, is this needed?"

I don't know if I consider this industry all that competitive--it's an oligopoly mixed with a cultural monopoly (what I mean by that is it's the same type of people running all of the companies. The people who run what we now call, again, AT&T, are basically old phone company fuddy-duddies who think it's a privilege (I'm using that word in the worst way possible) that we all have phone service. The same applies to Verizon and to a lesser extent T-Mobile and Sprint/Nextel.)

I'm not sure what I think of the idea. Half of me thinks it would be great, and the other half thinks that the companies would decline to upgrade to 3G, thinking that they'd be better off financially keeping the network slow enough so that Skype couldn't work on it.

Re:competitive industry? (2, Interesting)

figment (22844) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105348)

While you are correct as asessing it as an oligpoly, you miss one important part -- how it became an oligopoly.

The rights to that spectrum were carefully auctioned off by the FCC in a semi-public auction. The companies who currently own these rights (Sprint, T-Mobile, etc) paid literally hundreds of millions of dollars for their spectrum property rights.

Thus any re-opening up of the spectrum will easily cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars. All this for skype. This seems quite rediculous, there is already an option for new carriers, who are able to buy excess capacity from the current spectrum owners. This is how the companies such as Disney Mobile, Mobile ESPN (before it got axed), Amped, etc, works. This makes a lot more sense, these spectrum owners weren't just gifted with the spectrum, they won it in an auction, presumably because would be the most efficient operators (reflected in their highest bidding prices).

T-Mobile is mostly open, right? (4, Informative)

hirschma (187820) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105218)

From TFA: "Unfortunately, the "invisible hand" has been a little too invisble here, and no operator actually offers a wide-open network."

Hmm, let's see. With T-Mobile, I can:

- Buy any GSM phone that I pretty much want to, unlocked,
- Put in my SIM card,
- Use all of the T-Mobile services,
- Enjoy wi-fi,
- Enjoy unfettered Bluetooth,
- Enjoy an all-you-can eat data plan (albeit, at EDGE speeds only).

So why doesn't everyone jump on T-Mobile? Well, on the other hand,

- I pay more for my service (no one is subsidizing my phone),
- Can't use all of T-mobile's services or voice plans (no "five friends" for me),
- Can't get any tech support (see, your phone is not supported, bye)
- Get scary warnings on the "my T-Mobile site" since they cannot identify my phone.

I have no interest in Skype. But I do have interest in a BYO phone plan at lower cost, and the option to enjoy all of the plans that T-Mobile offers. Perhaps they have a point.

jh

Do it (1)

stoneycoder (1020591) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105246)

The cell phone companies are idiots and i for one am sick of it, this needs to happen just to lessen the grip of their control if nothing else. They should open the network, and open the phones as well.

It seems most people don't even realize how screwed up the cell phone world is just because they don't know any better. Firstly, these pieces of shit are not worth $400, I can put together a low end computer for less than that. Or I can get one for .99 cents, if i sign up for a 3 year contract. That is the REAL reason they are 400-600 bucks, to force you into the contract. So now you have your $400 phone and your $60 a month plan for the next 3 years. Ok great, now you want the internet. What most of these idiots pass off as the internet is a tiered 17 layer system of bullshit with new charges along every step of the way. You pay $10 a month for 'internet' access. What this gets you is access to a bunch of crappy applications, and they are not free, each one costs money. Say you want ringtones, you pay $5 for the ring tone browsing application, and then each crappy tone (aka mp3 or wav file) is another $2. You want to get weather, maps, or anything else on your phone, another application, another 1 time fee for the app, and then usage fees on top of that. If you're real lucky, you can hook your phone to the computer via usb and add some wav files.

Then there's text messaging, what a crock of shit, tiny messages hardly more than a few hundred bytes for the maximum size message (compared to full duplex audio on phone conversations), and they have the balls to charge 20 cents each. If the 'internet' on phones was real, we could send text with it, for free.

Anyways thats my rant. I'd love to see more linux phones, and get the actual internet on phones as standard and stop locking people out of everything. Let everyone else have a stab at developing useful things for phones. Then we'll start seeing the true potential of having little computers in our pockets always connected to the interweb. I hope someday i can actually USE my phone like i do the computer.

1968 Carterfone & Net Neutrality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18105272)

" Think of it as network neutrality for cell networks. Given the competition that exists within the industry, is this needed?""

There is one big difference between this (cell) and the PSTN. The cell companies were not funded by the United States Government. There were billions of dollars pumped into the PSTN. Since it was subsidized by the US Tax Dollar; hence forth should be open. Otherwise you are harming the people that paid for the network.

PS: For what it's worth. I have worked for Ma' Bell, AT&T, SBC, Ameritech, MCI, WorldCom, T-Mobile, US Cell etc through out my career. I have seen both sides of the fence. Would this expand competition? Yes, but to the detriment of the people who invested into these companies. There is currently (IMHO) enough competition to the currently cell market.

PSS: I am not to thrilled about all the acquisitions of late. Now that is harmful to the market; but not the investors.

Transport versus value added (2, Insightful)

stox (131684) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105284)

We keep coming up on this question since the divestiture of AT&T by Judge Green in 1984. The problem with current carriers is that they want to control the transport, and the value that can be added. This really is the same debate as breaking the stranglehold on the local loop. He who controls the last mile wins!

How the FCC enables wireless competition (4, Informative)

straponego (521991) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105306)

I was involved in handling the technical aspects of the bidding on the FCC PCS Wireless C Block Auction. This auction was supposed to enable a fourth cell phone carrier to buy spectrum across the US in every market. The auction was limited to small businesses, owned by a woman or minority. You know, fresh blood to compete with the huge incumbents to spur competition, lower prices, and encourage innovation. The I-Phone's random access voice mail? I put that in our business plan, in 1996. Anyway.

The second largest bidder in the C Block Auction was BDPCS. They bid $2.5 billion. They did their bidding from the offices of US West (now Qwest). They then immediately defaulted, because... they were not actually a real company. They'd never existed before the auction, had never sold a product or service.

They had bid on all the territories in which US West sold cell phone service.

The court cases in which they contested their default lasted for years. Years in which there was no fourth competitor in US West's markets.

The FCC was fine with this.

Oh, and the bidding process? For each round of bidding, you had to download the results via a proprietary Windows application, over modem, from a 900 number. The download speeds you would get from this number, no matter where you dialed from, amounted to approximately one tenth of the speed of the modem connection.

Yes, the FCC is a public government agency, the data belonged to the public, and the Internet did, in fact, exist back then. But I added it up, and whoever ran that deal must have made millions from that procedure. A cousin of an FCC commissioner, perchance?

What I'm getting at, is that if you expect the FCC to enable competition for Skype or anybody else, in the best interests of the public, well. The FCC now, ten years later, is *much* more corrupt than it was then. When Colin Powell's son Michael became head of the FCC and was instrumental in approving the AOL-Time Warner deal (Colin was on AOL's board of directors at the time; the deal made him about $4 million)... Powell was when it started to get really bad.

Now, the FCC operates purely in the interests of those who can afford their favor.

This will never happen (2, Insightful)

MEForeman (930504) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105464)

Why won't this happen? Because Verizon, Sprint/Nextel, AT&T/Cingular will not let their networks be opened. These companies spent truckloads of money building networks that they will not let be taken away and I cannot see an administrative agency getting any sort of go ahead to do this.

Is it a good idea? No. They are private networks and they should not be taken away from their owners.

Re:This will never happen (3, Interesting)

n3umh (876572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105632)

No one is proposing taking the networks away from the cell companies. They still get your money when you use Skype over their network.

What they would be taking away from the cell companies is the stranglehold they have on the data services you can get. I think Skype has a good case.

The advancement of wireless communication is not well served by the current crop of cellular providers. They want to use the data capacity they've built to charge you $3 for the latest Justin Timberlake video, and to let you get your email at exorbitant rates. They really don't want to be in the network business, they want to be in the gouging-for-fancy-things-you-don't-need business.

They built their networks believing (correctly, so far) that they'd have this stranglehold. That may have been an incentive for them at the beginning, and I'm sure that someone will say that the nationwide cellular networks wouldn't have been built without that incentive, and maybe they're right, but it's about time for there to be some regulation. The radio spectrum is a public, limited resource.

Purchasing exclusive rights to public property with expectation that you'd be able to hold and abuse those rights forever is a bad business plan. It would be different story, and would not require regulatory intervention if Skype could just go ahead and build their own cell towers and set up their own wireless data network to deliver wireless Skype to their customers. They can't do that. Neither can anyone else who might want to try to bring new services to customers over wireless. The cell phone companies have little incentive to innovate outside of getting people their ringtones and music videos faster. There will eventually be intervention here. I think the precedent referred to in the article is very strongly applicable here.

skype has balls (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105476)

this is a great idea, but since AT&T now owns most of the cellular networks, big media's congress won't allow Jesus's righteous FCC to do this.

It's not as simple as people are suggesting (2, Insightful)

WafflesMcDuff (791660) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105486)

The fact is, with the way the major carriers are at this point it would be IMPOSSIBLE to integrate all the networks so that so long as there is a tower in range of your phone, your phone will work despite what carrier owns the tower or what carrier provides your service....

Because when it comes down to it all the major carriers use completely different signal types:

Sprint: CDMA*
Nextel: iDen
Verizon: TDMA/EvDO*
Cingular/AT&T Wireless: GSM

*I could have these two switched but I don't feel that double checking this detail is necessary to make my point as the general idea remains the same.

When it comes down to it you cannot unify the cell phone networks the way the landline networks have been unified....
The landline networks all use essentially the same protocol for communication. POTS (plain old telephone service)

And THEY'RE not even actually integrated! If the lines going to my house were put in by Verizon originally and I want AT&T to be my local and long distance provider, Verizon still comes in and runs the line from the pole to the network interface jack. The only difference is AT&T pays them to do it! Then an AT&T guy comes in (and if you live in the sticks it's a subcontractor not even a real AT&T guy) and does my inside wiring and then syncs me to the VERIZON network. However, the verizon account attached to my home phone line is billed to AT&T instead of me and then AT&T bills me in turn.

Isn't legislation great?! People demand to be able to choose whatever service they damn well please. this makes sense and is fair. but rather than investigating feasibility, the lawmakers said "YES! THIS IS IMPORTANT! SO IT IS WRITTEN SO IT SHALL BE DONE!" and POOF! they all integrate with a snap of some congressman's fingers! Right?! Wrong... instead all the phone companies had to come up with a scheme to give people a choice using hardware that wasn't really designed for this.... and so you wind up with a kluged* together billing and passing system. And the only reason it works is because the technology is all the same and so when your bill comes from AT&T you don't know that Verizon still owns the wire and AT&T is just acting as a middle man now and offering you their (very similar) plans.
*Kluge: To force something to work by cobbling it together poorly... think of forcing the square peg into the round hole. That's kluging.

So let's get back to cell phones... without the same hardware you can't even begin to try to kluge it the same way. In my honest opinion, Skype has opened a can of worms that if the FCC sides with them, we'll feel the pain from for years to come as the cell phone companies scramble to comply with an outrageous demand.

Re:It's not as simple as people are suggesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18105584)

Verizon uses CDMA. EVDO is a flavor of CDMA. iDen is owned by Motorola NOT Nextel (Sprint). I hate to break this to you to (and I am sure that this will start some little Slashdot debate) but TDMA is basically a standard of TDMA.

run what you like, pay thru the nose (1)

quick_dry_3 (112334) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105514)

Using GSM, the networks don't really interfere with what devices I can use on the network - so long as it takes a SIM card and I've paid it up I'm sweet (they might lock down the phones they subsidise and sell to Joe SixPack, but that is their business, I can take the cheaper deal or find my own)

So if the cell networks open up and let people install Skype on their phones, fine, but if that is eating up their profits won't they just make data costs prohibitive? or make data transmission of the type Skype requires not viable - bump up the latency maybe? You might not get a charge on your bill that shows as a voice call, but there is still no escaping the telco sitting in the middle shuffling your bits back n forth.

(One painful, but only slightly on topic telco thing is that they got Microsoft to not provide any way to get at the audio of a voice call in Windows CE, very annoying)

It worked for MCI (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18105556)

Skype is trying to go down the path trod by MCI back in the day where it used a combination of litigation and whining at the government to convince them that the only way to "protect" consumers from the big, bad meanie that was until recently Ma Bell was to force AT&T to allow MCI to use their existing infrastructure for free, so that a competitor stood a chance of getting their foot in the door.

Going on thirty years later, we've all seen how well this particular arrangement has benefited consumers.

More to the point, Skype doesn't even have the old telephone/Internet argument that the American government or public at large has directly paid for the construction of the current US cellular network. The private firms and their customers have paid that as a cost of doing business.

Even though I don't use VOIP, I've held these companies in fairly high esteem up until now. But after this, I'm classifying Skype with the same bozos who write botting programs for MMORPGs. Quit leeching off other people's work and start a real business, jackholes.

Re:It worked for MCI (1)

stox (131684) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105610)

Actually, if it wasn't for MCI and Carterphone, you would be paying 10 times what you do now for long distance, and the Internet, as we know it wouldn't exist. We would all be happily "surfing" the net at 128Kbps paying by the minute over ISDN.

this is a ploy (2, Interesting)

jay2003 (668095) | more than 7 years ago | (#18105614)

Skype does not want wireless (or wired carriers for that matter) blocking their VoIP calls. This request is a warning to the wireless carriers that Skype will push for very disruptive regulatory changes if their traffic is blocked. While Skype likely has low probability of successfully lobbying the FCC on the matter, the impact to the carriers is huge so they likely won't want to gamble since call revenue lost to Skype traffic is only at least at the beginning is only a minor ammount.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?