Nancy Gohring, IDG News Service
STOCKHOLM -- The larger Skype's user base grows, the less likely it is
that telecommunications operators or regulators will successfully
block the voice over IP service, said the head of Skype's European
operations, during an interview at the VON Europe conference here.
An experience in Brazil makes a good example, said James Bilefield,
general manager of Skype in Europe. About a year ago, one of the
largest telecom operators in Brazil blocked Skype. The reaction from
Skype users was so strong that after a week, the operator
relented. "The community has the power to change things," he said.
Some operators, particularly the incumbents, may seek to block Skype
because Skype's low-cost voice service can steal market share from
them and thus eat into their most significant source of revenue.
Incumbent operators speaking at VON Europe didn't hide the fact that
the VoIP players are a threat.
"Our existing cash flow is being challenged," said Joacim Damgard,
vice president for broadband and fixed services at TeliaSonera.
Harder to Block
With the introduction of the most recent version of Skype came news
that the application does a better job of hiding its traffic on
networks, making it harder for service providers or third party
applications to block it. While Bilefield couldn't explain how the
application does that, he did say that Skype has a mission to make
sure that customers can use the software.
"Our goal is that consumers who want to use it should be able to,"
Bilefield said. "They shouldn't have anything in their way."
If the issue of blocking Skype gets heated, Skype thinks that
regulators will be on its side. "Overall, regulators want to provide
choice. Skype does that," he said.
Mobile operators have most recently begun to ban VoIP services. Last
week, T-Mobile in the U.K. said that subscribers to a new data card
service are forbidden to use VoIP services. Bilefield said that some
operators have chosen to work with Skype because their customers want
In the near future, some mobile operators may find it harder to
challenge Skype. Skype has been working on creating a client that is
compatible with Symbian, the operating system from Symbian used in
smart phones manufactured by Nokia and Sony Ericsson Mobile
Communications. A Skype client is already available to users of phones
running Microsoft's Windows Mobile OS.
Copyright 2006 PC World Communications, Inc.