TPW 1: Skype and wireless net neutrality, the XM-Sirius merger, and spectrum commons

by on February 23, 2007 · 2 comments

Welcome to the first episode of TLF’s new podcast! Tech Policy Weekly from the Technology Liberation Front is a weekly discussion about technology policy from TLF’s learned band of contributors. It features some of the brightest and most provocative minds in the field of technology public policy commenting on the regulation of the internet, media, privacy, intellectual property, and all things tech.

The shows’s panelists this week are Jerry Brito, Tim Lee, Adam Thierer, and PJ Doland. Topics include,

  • Skype’s petition to the FCC asking for wireless net neutrality rules a la Tim Wu
  • The antitrust and media implications of the proposed XM-Sirius satellite radio merger
  • Is a spectrum commons really a third way between regulation and privatization?

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  • http://www.galets.net galets

    just wanted to share some of my own experiences with you… As it’s often happening is our politicized society, when someone is talking about making the game fair to consumers, it might just mean the opposite. When I hear about consumer protection acts, I actually think: here comes some more legal base to protect big company FROM consumer claims.

    but enough observations, just facts: I recently received a message from Skype, which read: “our free calling services to USA and Canada has ended, if you want to call USA and Canada for free, subscribe to a yearly plan”. I thought: this is pretty neat! Plan seems to be fairly cheap and as you know I have a wife in Moscow. Why not get an unlimited calling plan so that she can be calling me on the cellphone whenever she wants? So, I went to the Skype website and read terms. I felt a little uncomfortable when I noticed that offer is only valid in USA and Canada, but I thought: okay, she might not physically be here, but I am. So as long as I sponsor her purchase, we’re fine. In the end, how will they determine where one comes from – by ip address? No way in hell this is going to happen.

    guess what – it DID happen. I started noticing that regardless the unlimited calling plan on account, all of her calls were charged per minute anyway. I contacted the customer service to have charges rolled back and received an answer: “you’re calling from a foreign IP address, we are not providing this service to outside IPs”. This was not mistake – they were dead serious – you can call USA phone for free, but only if your IP is based in USA

    Why would that be a case? Skype doesn’t incur any additional costs by connecting call coming from an IP in Russia, nor any other one for the same argument. We’re not in China. Skype has no pressure from government to limit the freedom of communications. There is no geography in the internet – it’s supposed to be one big network where any node freely accesses any other node free of additional cost. So, why is the convenient calling plan being blocked from non-USA ip addresses? The only reasonable explanation is because Skype doesn’t want to allow people use discounted rates when they can charge them full price. When it means revenue, it’s ok to bend concepts to your own advantage.

    Now you should see why I take the struggle of “fair” Skype with “wrong” providers with a grain of salt. Skype is as wrong as they are. It just uses our support to bet a bigger piece of pie and once a piece of pie is received it would exploit consumers with the same unfairness as every other big corporation does

  • http://www.galets.net galets

    just wanted to share some of my own experiences with you… As it’s often happening is our politicized society, when someone is talking about making the game fair to consumers, it might just mean the opposite. When I hear about consumer protection acts, I actually think: here comes some more legal base to protect big company FROM consumer claims.

    but enough observations, just facts: I recently received a message from Skype, which read: “our free calling services to USA and Canada has ended, if you want to call USA and Canada for free, subscribe to a yearly plan”. I thought: this is pretty neat! Plan seems to be fairly cheap and as you know I have a wife in Moscow. Why not get an unlimited calling plan so that she can be calling me on the cellphone whenever she wants? So, I went to the Skype website and read terms. I felt a little uncomfortable when I noticed that offer is only valid in USA and Canada, but I thought: okay, she might not physically be here, but I am. So as long as I sponsor her purchase, we’re fine. In the end, how will they determine where one comes from – by ip address? No way in hell this is going to happen.

    guess what – it DID happen. I started noticing that regardless the unlimited calling plan on account, all of her calls were charged per minute anyway. I contacted the customer service to have charges rolled back and received an answer: “you’re calling from a foreign IP address, we are not providing this service to outside IPs”. This was not mistake – they were dead serious – you can call USA phone for free, but only if your IP is based in USA

    Why would that be a case? Skype doesn’t incur any additional costs by connecting call coming from an IP in Russia, nor any other one for the same argument. We’re not in China. Skype has no pressure from government to limit the freedom of communications. There is no geography in the internet – it’s supposed to be one big network where any node freely accesses any other node free of additional cost. So, why is the convenient calling plan being blocked from non-USA ip addresses? The only reasonable explanation is because Skype doesn’t want to allow people use discounted rates when they can charge them full price. When it means revenue, it’s ok to bend concepts to your own advantage.

    Now you should see why I take the struggle of “fair” Skype with “wrong” providers with a grain of salt. Skype is as wrong as they are. It just uses our support to bet a bigger piece of pie and once a piece of pie is received it would exploit consumers with the same unfairness as every other big corporation does

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