Germany's third-biggest mobile operator, E-Plus, plans to bundle Skype with its flat-rate 3G mobile data plans beginning in the fall. Now, before the Skhype kicks in and the fanboys start talking about how this is the beginning of the end for mobile operators, the flat-rate data plan appears to cover data cards for laptops only, not handsets. And the press release says "Skype will be the only company offering calls over the Internet on the E-Plus mobile network". So all this really sounds like is E-Plus is blocking every VoIP provider except Skype, and "bundling" a piece of software its users could download for free anyway. T-Mobile's talked about how it will block VoIP traffic on its mobile networks for some dubious reasons, but is picking just one VoIP application and anointing it the chosen one, while banning all others really any better? The operators want to block VoIP to protect their voice business, and that's what it sounds like E-Plus is doing: blocking VoIP apps unless they're given an incentive to stop. So, E-Plus users are free to use any VoIP service they want, as long as it's the one that's been approved by E-Plus. Update: IDG confirms that this is only Skype on laptops, and that E-Plus has no plans to introduce Skype on mobile phones.
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