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More red meat for the FCC to chew on with AT&T and Apple

Mel Martin

Reflecting on my last post -- and how unbelievable the AT&T statement was that they have nothing to do with what gets approved in Apple's App Store -- convinced me I needed to refresh my dimming memory banks.

Remember all the flames about whether Skype would come out for the iPhone last year? Then, at the 2008 conference last year, none other than Steve Jobs told the assembled multitudes that he would love to see a VoIP application for the iPhone as long as it used Wi-Fi and not the cellular data network. That, of course, was designed to protect AT&T, and while AT&T might not have insisted, Jobs knew he couldn't allow a full version of Skype or any other similar voice client.

That caused the internet advocacy group Free Press to complain to the FCC, but nothing really happened. Now there is a new president, with a different view of net neutrality than that held by the Bush Administration. There's a new FCC Commissioner as well, Julius Genachowski.

I would expect this whole area of restricting freedom of access to be a big issue in the coming weeks and months. We may not hear what answers Google, AT&T and Apple give to the FCC queries right away, but they'll likely leak out eventually.

We may yet see some changes in some of these restrictive policies and more competition among cell phone providers and carriers. That benefits just about everyone. Perhaps the fight over crippled or banned apps like Skype, Google Voice and the SlingPlayer for iPhone has ignited a debate that could finally change things.

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