The Real Reason Skype's App For Verizon Phones Won't Work On WiFi
from the questions-answered dept
As Derek noted, the Skype app for Verizon followed a series of several other moves that call into question Skype's actual commitment to open networks, and that combined with US operators' historical positions against openness, it was natural to assume that the app shut off WiFi on Android devices because of some nefarious purpose. But Verizon has explained itself, saying the app behaves this way because of a combination of technology and legality. In short, Verizon lawyers felt like voice calls made through Skype needed to be treated like standard voice calls from a legal perspective. This means conforming to 911 regulations, as well as the CALEA act, which opens networks to wiretapping by law enforcement. Verizon contends that CALEA dictates that call-signaling info travel over its data network, rather than unknown (and possibly unsecure) WiFi. This is where the technology comes in: apparently it's impossible for the Skype app on Android to choose to use the Verizon data network if the device is connected to WiFi. So therefore it has to completely shut off the WiFi connection to be sure its data travels over the mobile network. On BlackBerry devices, this isn't the case, so the app doesn't force users to shut off their WiFi.
Given mobile operators' past penchant for closing off their networks, it's forgivable that somebody would assume one had nefarious purposes for blocking WiFi access to Skype. That may not be the case in this narrow instance -- but many of Derek's other questions about Skype's much-touted commitment to openness remain unanswered.