FCC commissioner pushes to investigate Apple’s decision to block Beeper Mini

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said Monday that the agency should investigate Apple over the company's decision to block the Beeper Mini service, which was working to bring iMessage to Android.

Pebble Founder That of Eric Migicovsky Beep launched a new service called Beeper Mini in December, which claimed to have reverse engineered the iMessage stack to make it work on Android. The following days were like a game of cat and mouse where Apple blocked Beeper Mini several times and the latter tried to find a solution. Later that month, Beeper gave up on making iMessage work on Android through Beeper Mini, calling the efforts “unsustainable.”

Carr spoke about watching this saga with FCC Part 14 Rules in mind. These rules emphasize that “advanced communications services” must be “accessible and usable by persons with disabilities.”

The broader set of Apple's exclusionary practices merits scrutiny from antitrust and competition agencies, but the FCC should also review this particular incident in light of our Part 14 rules on accessibility, usability and compatibility,” he said.

Carr said Beeper Mini promotes some of these principles such as accessibility and usability for people with disabilities.

He called out Apple by saying that vendors “must not install network features, functions, or capabilities that impede accessibility or usability.”

FCC did not immediately comment on plans to investigate the problem.

Apple's decision appears to have caught the attention of regulators. In December, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers asked the US Department of Justice to investigate Apple's “potential anti-competitive treatment” of Beeper, saying “interoperability and interconnections have long been key drivers of competition and consumer choice in communications services. Furthermore, Senator Elizabeth Warren also criticized Apple's decision at the time.

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