It appears hi-tech competitors can work together when they perceive a common threat. According to a Reuters report on the Yahoo Financial News Web site, a group of companies including Apple Computer and Microsoft wrote a letter lobbying U.S. regulators to protect consumer broadband rights. They appear concerned that service providers may limit access to services and destinations. From the report:
The group wrote the Federal Communications Commission to air concerns that providers of so-called broadband like cable giants Comcast Corp. (NasdaqNM:CMCSK - News) and phone companies like Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ - News) could limit where subscribers can go.
"The commission should assure that consumers and other Internet users continue to enjoy the unfettered ability to reach lawful content and services, and to communicate and interact with each other and reach desired Internet impediments imposed by transmission network providers," the letter said.
At this point, the action taken by the group seems to be preventative as no examples were cited.
"Those who advocate regulation of broadband Internet services have failed to provide any evidence of consumer problems accessing Internet sites," said Dan Brenner, an attorney for the cable trade group, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.
It is not yet decided if the FCC even has the power to oversee such issues. Internet regulation is still a gray area. According to the report:
The FCC does not directly regulate the Internet but since it uses the cable and telephone pipelines, some have argued that such transmission gives the agency jurisdiction. The agency has a proceeding on those issues to determine what, if any, purview it has over broadband.
The FCC declined to comment.