Thu, Apr 2nd 2009 9:21pm
Skype has gotten some press this week after it announced the availability of a an iPhone client for its service (except in Canada, though, thanks to patent issues). The application only works over WiFi, though, and not the cellular data network. Operators typically say these restrictions are in order to prevent the use of massive amounts of bandwidth and harm network performance for other users; what seems more likely is they're worried that Skype will "steal voice minutes" away from their network. That's a silly belief though, because when users are already paying for a big bundle of minutes, and have unlimited off-peak minutes, and so on, it's not very likely they'll go to the trouble of using Skype for most calls. Perhaps the only ones they'd use such an application for are for calls they weren't going to make through the operator's network anyway -- such as international calls, for which they'd use a cheaper landline, a calling card, or wait until they're in front of a PC. Blocking Skype from working over the mobile network only hurts the operators by putting up a barrier in front of customers, it really doesn't protect any revenues. But no matter, the blocking -- or worse -- goes on. In Germany, where Skype is the top download from the App Store, T-Mobile (the operator which sells the iPhone there) is threatening to terminate the contracts of customers who use Skype on their iPhones, because the contracts prohibit the use of VoIP services. That's a nice touch: play by our rules, or you'll no longer have the privilege of giving us your money. You know, that doesn't sound so bad, because then users are free to take their business elsewhere. Although, as Skype's general counsel points out, every other mobile operator in Germany also bans VoIP.
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