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Skype brings calls, video to living room couch

So my husband does this goofy thing nearly every Saturday, when he watches the games of his favorite Turkish soccer team, Besiktas, from our living room couch in Bethesda, MD. Then he flips open his laptop and runs a video conference online with his brothers and parents in Turkey so they can watch the game together and see each other's reactions (lots of hollering) to the game real-time on their computers.

I asked Skype CEO Josh Silverman today if that whole experience will soon come to one screen. He said yes, and for now, the Internet video and phone conferencing provider in taking one step into that direction by bringing their popular service to the living room.

At the Consumer Electronics Show, he displayed Skype's new software for the telvision that, along with Panasonic, allows you to talk to grandma in London through a TV that is connected to a broadband connection. What you need is a Web video camera and the company's software. The service will be available this summer.

The company has been a proponent of net neutrality rules that would ensure cable and telecom providers of Internet connectivity can't prioritize or block such applications that are changing the way we communicate and get our entertainment. The Federal Communications Commission is in the middle of creating potentially stronger rules that would stop ISPs from blocking applications or giving priority to some content over others.

"This is a great example of convergence and exactly the reason why people want broadband connectivity," Silverman said. "Obviously it is important to make sure providers not pick and choose which applications providers to choose,"

For now, you can't run multiple screens on a television. So my husband can't have a window open with his Besiktas game and another with his brothers singing their favorite soccer team chants. But screen sharing is already available on Skype on the desktop and will come to televisions soon, Silverman said.

By Cecilia Kang  |  January 7, 2010; 3:49 PM ET
Categories:  FCC  
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