The Circuit: VoIP to be banned in China, Clearwire chairman calls it quits, MySpace layoffs likely
LEADING THE DAY: China has moved to ban all VoIP services except two state-owned networks, China Unicom and China Telecom, likely making Internet telephony services such as Skype illegal to use. The Telegraph reported that some Chinese Twitter users were reporting they could not download the Skype client, though it was running fine in Shanghai. Skype issued a statement saying that "users in China currently can access Skype via Tom Online, our partner," and refused to comment on speculation that it will be banned.
Experts whom the Telegraph spoke to said it would be difficult to enforce the ban and unlikely that such a ban could truly shut down the use of Skype in China. Professor Kan Kaili at Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications said, "Skype is the market leader, but there is also MSN and Gmail Talk. The children of Chinese government officials, who are studying abroad, use these services to call home, so I do not think anyone is going to cut the lines. Even if they take a strict approach, such as getting local operators to block the broadband services of people who use Skype, people will still find a way around it."
Clearwire Chairman stepping down: From Bloomberg, Clearwire Chairman Craig McCaw will step down today. McCaw announced his decision in a filing on Thursday. In an e-mailed statement, McCaw said that Clearwire will continue its efforts to create a nationwide 4G network.
"Today, with a 4G network covering one-third of the U.S. population and serving nearly 3 million customers, including those from some of the leading names in telecommunications, Clearwire is well on its way to realizing that vision," he said in an e-mailed statement.
Bloomberg reports that stakeholder Eagle River Holdings LLC, which nominated McCaw for the position, plans to name ICO Global Communications Holdings Ltd. and former Clearwire co-chairman Brian Wolff to the position.
Myspace could layoff 50 percent of workforce: Network Effect reported Friday that multiple sources at Myspace are saying the company could be for sale and might lay off up to 50 percent of its workforce. The social network, which underwent a major redesign six weeks ago, has not yet decided what employee cuts to make, though the entire Myspace staff was given the last week of December off in a cost-cutting move.
One rumor is that Zynga, which makes games such as Cityville and Farmville for Facebook, could buy Myspace from News Corp. The two companies have discussed forming a closer relationship in the past, though those talks did not result in any agreement.
Turning away from the TSA: Listening to privacy concerns, several U.S. airports are hiring private companies to manage their airport security staffing rather than employing members from the embattled Transportation Security Agency. The Washington Post reported Friday that 16 airports, including San Francisco's and Kansas City's international airports, have switched to contracted security personnel since 2002. Several others are considering a move, and one Orlando airport has approved a switch but is still looking for the right company. The change is not about money, but rather about customer service, as complaints about TSA agents' behavior and procedures grow.
Phone firms back universal charger in Europe: Fourteen phone firms, including Nokia, Research In Motion, Apple and Samsung, have agreed to specifications from the European Commission to base all phone chargers on micro-USB technology. As the BBC reported Thursday, the specifications only apply to smartphone chargers, as the commission said smartphones are likely to be the most popular type of phone in Europe within the next two years.
Cable system in trouble long before WikiLeaks: Also from The Washington Post, an examination of the State Department's Net-Centric Diplomacy system, which was hacked by WikiLeaks in November. The article outlines how user error and limited oversight started to pose unforeseen risks to national security as the system became more bloated and unwieldy.
FCC spokeswoman leaving: Federal Communications Commission spokeswoman Jen Howard announced she will be leaving her post after a year and a half. She will be taking a senior communications role at the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Her last day at the FCC will be Jan. 14.
Correction: An earlier version of The Circuit incorrectly identified Craig McCaw as the CEO of Clearwire. He is the chairman.
| December 31, 2010; 9:15 AM ET
Categories: Clearwire, International, Privacy, Sprint Nextel
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