Consumer Confidential: Cellphone Skype, faster Internet, Abbey Road
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Here’s your testily Tuesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:
--Verizon Wireless says it’ll allow some cellphone customers to use Skype for calls. What’s that mean to the uninitiated? It means you can use Skype’s online phone service and not chew into any of your Verizon plan’s minutes. However, you’ll have to pay a fee to Skype for the privilege. A new app will be available next month. Now we’ll have to see if other wireless carriers will be similarly generous with their networks. AT&T has already put the kibosh on Skype, and iPhone only allows access in Wi-Fi hot spots.
--And while we’re talking telecom, the head of the Federal Communications Commission says he won’t be happy until at least 100 million U.S. households have access to super-fast broadband Internet connections. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski says those connections should be several times faster than what most of us have now, and he wants this accomplished within the next decade. I say: Why wait that long? We’re pathetically behind other developed nations in broadband capabilities. Somebody needs to light a fire under the telecom industry.
--In the market for some new digs? How about the place where the Beatles recorded some of their best stuff? Cash-strapped music heavyweight EMI is seeking buyers for Abbey Road Studios in London -- you know, the place where the Fab Four were pictured crossing the street on the cover of their final album. The asking price? Not revealed. But it’s estimated that a sale could run as high as $47 million. That’s a whole lot of glass onions.
-- David Lazarus