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Mobile operators seek to 'block' Skype in Sweden

Published: 28 Mar 2012 09:47 GMT+02:00

A spokesperson for telecom service provider Telia told Sveriges Radio (SR) that the technology exists to block users' ability to use mobile voice over IP (VoIP) telephony services.

"It's going to mean that there will be service plans where it's not included so it won't work," Telia spokesperson Charlotte Züger told SR.

"I believe, quite simply, that we need to be able to get paid for our various services no matter what, as different service plans include different things."

A recent report by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), which oversees telecom regulations across the European Union, has found that Swedish telecom operators are not alone in their desire to prevent users from making free VoIP calls.

However, Swedish companies looking to ensure users don't forego paid mobile phone calls in favour of VoIP services, may find their plans scuttled by the European Commission, which is considering banning telecom companies from blocking services like Skype and Viber.

According to the European Commission, maintaining "net neutrality" – whereby all internet traffic is treated equally – is important and companies shouldn't be able to control how customers use the network.

The findings of the BEREC report, published earlier this month, prompted calls by net neutrality advocates for legislation to ensure that competition isn't hampered by the blocking of VoIP services.

"These preliminary findings prove that EU operators impose unjustifiable restrictions to Internet access," said Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson of France-based citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

Swedish MEP Gunnar Hökmark of the Moderate Party told SR he's open to exploring legislation, but is generally critical of telecom companies' attempt to block customers from using VoIP services on their mobile phones.

"From the start I think we should have an openness which means that we never have to take such measures," he told SR.

TT/The Local/dl

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Your comments about this article

10:20 March 28, 2012 by Antonito
Would it be the same case post offices trying to block hotmail, for example?. What is next? Car companies blocking the use of bicycles?
10:24 March 28, 2012 by RosemarysBaby80
Corp's looking for more ways to F-ck consumers in the arse.
11:02 March 28, 2012 by sparc
It's expected for the carriers to want the ban. It's already happening across the pond, making them jealous.

It's up to responsible politicians and other respective authority bodies to stand their ground against these, let's face it, ridiculous capitalistic claims.

The example given by Antonito in the first comment is the perfect analogy. Data is data.
11:38 March 28, 2012 by OscarM
Technology is being misused. Internet should not be 'owned' and provided for free.

We are coming into an age where we don't always need ownership to prosper. The idea of ownership is only relevant when there is scarcity. Something like internet has the potential to be 'freely abundant for everyone.

Profits will kill us in the end if we don't put a stop to the insanity soon. A new era of abundance from the evolution of technology must NOT be allowed to be suppressed.
11:47 March 28, 2012 by Great Scott
The capitalist right wing fat cats now know what it is to "Want". The majority of us already know, but we are not allowed to have. If these parasites could have their own way you would be paying for the internet. Communication charges are already excessive and overpriced.
12:01 March 28, 2012 by Abe L
All the EU needs to maintain is their regulatory approach towards net neutrality and flatfee subscription fees.

This will not allow them to block Skype and it will not allow them to charge you based on data usage or call usage. That would be the best scenario for everyone. As a result they might raise subscription prices if they feel they don't make enough money, though that is where the market and competition will jump in.
12:41 March 28, 2012 by helzkeeper
im with Antonito on this it sad now thay want to just take a way skype whats next it comes down to money
12:43 March 28, 2012 by jahid
On that case they will adversite as "Pay xxx amount for internet browsing, spotify, mail check and chatting only". Which is now "Pay xxx for 10 Mbps Connection"
13:16 March 28, 2012 by rob582
Maybe they want to block iPhone messenger as well as that's taking money from text messaging services!
13:21 March 28, 2012 by philster61
Yet again the famous Swedish jealousy rears its ugly head
13:24 March 28, 2012 by peecee_uk
As communications leans more towards internet based solutions, obile operators also upgrade their networks to better the data services they can offer.

It seems a bit silly that they would not accept that these voice over IP services are harmful to their revenue since they actively push data bundles to promote the use of the internet over their network. They get their money still regardless if standard calls are made or not.

It should be down to the consumer how they wish to use the service they subscribe to.
13:42 March 28, 2012 by Cephalectomy
we'll just use msn messenger, yahoo messenger, google talk ....

how about that :)
13:46 March 28, 2012 by seychelle_18
It seems that these companies are just bitter. They have to face the fact that in this fast changing world, they have to prioritize on what the customer needs and wants and not just focus on their selfish motives of collecting income. I'm not saying that they should never generate income but I want to tell was that if they will provide the best and cheapest solutions for the customers, income will flow through their company. I challenge them to do the same with skype or viber and they will notice that people will patronize their product even with less marketing as long as they are providing really good services with the customers.

As they say ''Access is King''
17:23 March 28, 2012 by jdbpogo
hasn't my provider already charged me for the bandwidth? how i use it should not be of concern to them. they need to find a real solution if this is going to be a problem for them as traditional telephony services are almost at the point of irrelevancy.

they need to focus on being a dumb, fat pipe as soon ALL information is going to be fed through it. a stupid protectionist stance by the providers and the government is going to hurt everybody, first the consumer, but eventually the providers as well. it will hamper innovation, and stagnate the market.

i have hope that not all providers will be so short sighted and gain a huge competitive edge by being the best dumb, fat pipe possible. i know thats the company i'll be using and most people would too.
19:06 March 28, 2012 by Lukestar1991
'hasn't my provider already charged me for the bandwidth? how i use it should not be of concern to them.'

@jdbpogo

You're exactly right. As long as people arent accessing illegal content then it has nothing to do with them whatsoever.

As if any sane minded people would let this happen.
19:37 March 28, 2012 by Liquidmonkey
bandwidth is bandwidth... period.

how i use it is my business not the provider.

this is just another of providers looking to screw over their customers and i hope there will be massive protests over this.
20:13 March 28, 2012 by Deeja
then who's going to use TELIA???... not many. i think that will just do more damage than voip does. we pay them and it certainly is not their business to dictate what to do and what not to do. WE PAY AND WE DECIDE!!!
20:58 March 28, 2012 by tadchem
People who want the service bad enough will get it, one way or another.

In this high-tech world innovation cannot be stifled indefinitely.

You can't put the genii back into the bottle.
21:06 March 28, 2012 by Opinionfool
If the telco don't like that people use Skype through the data allocation of their mobile package then perhaps the problem is with the pricing point and services that the telco offers.Give the customer what they want used to be the maxim of business. Now it's "stop the customer from doing anything that we don't like".
22:47 March 28, 2012 by BenC30
There are many they would have to battle with (BBM, Skype, iMessenger... etc). They would only block apps, to then find new ones replacing them. They will just have to accept it and move on, or face new mobile phone operators more happy to overtake them...
22:55 March 28, 2012 by Radhus
It comes as no surprise to me that Swedish telcos want to do this. I know other countries also want the same but I bet the Swedes initiated it. Nothing is free here.

We have different types of security in the socialist system that other countries don't have but our government does anything it likes to make more money from us.

I hope there will be protests of some kind about this, but knowing Swedes I bet there won't. It will just be ja-ha in the end.
23:20 March 28, 2012 by BrittInSweden
Surely they ARE being paid, the fee's for data rates covers Skype use.
23:27 March 28, 2012 by 4254
it does not really matter i think, as, according to my experience, voice IP comm is far too bad over cell data network. Cell network providers are simply trying hard to convince us that they cannot provide the necessary bandwidth and we should stop buying data subscriptions from them.
00:17 March 29, 2012 by peecee_uk
Sorry, I slightly incorrectly worded my post but could neither edit nor post a follow up corrective message. Of course the carriers are getting paid.
01:03 March 29, 2012 by Kr0n
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Let me provide some thoughts on the tonight's topic. Some background information is required. Cellular network operators (CNOs) are in a regulated industry. To become a CNO, one has to purchase a license that costs millions and sometimes billions of euros or dollars. Governments charge for the right to use frequencies for commercial purposes. Secondly, CNOs have to buy equipment: base stations, cell towers, land plots, roof masts, base station controllers (BSCs) to connect base stations together, mobile switching centers (MSCs) to interconnect different segments (BSCs) of the network, and so forth. Then CNOs have to plan and build the radio network, incurring costs for operation (electricity) and maintainance (repairs, fine-tuning). Add here connection equipment (gateways) to other telcos (mobile and fixed) and you will see the capital expenditures (CapEx) required to start a mobile network. So, the governments impose the rules by charging for licenses and frequencies, and CNOs have no other option but to protect their income streams.

Enter VoIP. No mobile networks of its own. No licenses. No costly frequencies. They usually have just data center with VoIP servers connected via gateways to one or several fixed telephony providers, who in their turn have interconnection deals with CNOs. Look at the calling rates. They are dirt cheap, being a reflection of the low overheads of running a VoIP business. To be fair, VoIP operators would need to buy traffic from CNOs at wholesale prices and then resell it to customers. Much in the same way as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) do.

The argument about the bandwidth (BW) being paid for is wrong. The price of the BW is given on the assumption that voice traffic will be kept intact and data BW would be used for non-voice services. Given that voice goes to VoIP, CNOs will shift the pricing so that regula voice services will be cheap (as data BW now) and data BW will become more expensive (to compensate for lost revenue from voice). Prohibition of VoIP is a wrong step, in my opinion. It is a legitimate service that is in high demand, and it should be just priced right (let the market work here). If you have read so far, you will see that blocking VoIP is wrong, but cheap data BW may soon disappear as CNOs recover their revenues. I think thet governments will support CNOs in this move (remember the heavy license fees).
09:34 March 29, 2012 by Mb 65
Swedish mobile companies are 50% more expensive than other EU companies on there abonnemang and call prices. They want it all ways.
13:32 March 29, 2012 by seychelle_18
@Kr0n

I don't think it is important for the general public to know this license cost. The main thing that most people considers is getting the service that they want in the cheapest possible price.
16:15 March 29, 2012 by 4254
@seychelle_18

When the quality of service is as bad as for swedish cell data network, it is very natural wanting to get it at the cheapest possible price.

Personally i agree to pay more for a really good quality cell network data services. But these "really good services" are simply not available for purchase.
19:27 March 29, 2012 by oystercatcher
I am angry about any move against the free use of skype. I want the companies who are behind this move to make themselves know so that users can make a choice about boycoting them or not.
20:39 March 29, 2012 by Kr0n
For those of you who has already seen their VoIP services blocked by their CNO, there is a simple trick. Configure your Skype or Viber or other VoIP service to use those ports that are normally used for web browsing or e-mail (the legitimate uses for data plans). These ports are 80 (used for regular web access, http) and 443 (used for secure web access, https). If your operator does not block e-mail, you can also try e-mail ports 21 (SMTP), 143 (IMAP), or 995 (SSL/TLS). Good luck!
00:26 March 30, 2012 by Room for Rent
Where is the human rights in this??? New dictators are breeding , telia, tele2 etc, stop selling weapons to dictators and now stop all mobile companies who violates human rights. skype is not porr or terrorists brand etc. ban telia first.. please..
15:05 March 30, 2012 by stacyparrish
Typical Swedish Socio-Marxism crap. Don't tell the Swedish Government, they'll figure out a way to TAX anyone using free VOIP services AND then add 25% VAT - much like they do to electricity. This country is hopeless.
17:29 March 30, 2012 by gedw99
WAKE UP PEOPLE !!!!!!

The telecome are fored to charge so much because of the licenses they must pay to the government for the riht to use a frequency.

The government invents the prices and sells to the telecome nothing but air space.

So it is basically a TAX by the government on you via the Telecoms.

Its totally crazy way of licensing spectrum.

what is the alternative / solution ?

1. Get a wifi router that has multiple SSID's, and share one of them as a guest with 10% of the bandwidth allocated to it. This will allow us the people to just use open wifi everywhere and punish the mobile telecoms.

2. To bypass the Telecoms blockage of VOIP, you just need to get a Router that has a VPN built into it.

then from you mobile you transparently connect to your home router which then connects to the other person your calling.

The Telecoms companies cant block this because it is encrypted over a different IP port.

People that know about this stuff have been using there solution for years now.

We cant change the system, but we can work around their stupid ways of thinking.
18:30 March 30, 2012 by sunnchilde
Does the postal service want to ban email, too?
18:57 March 30, 2012 by tadchem
It sounds like the carriage-makers are complaining about the automobile-makers.
15:36 March 31, 2012 by sureiam
competition.................high!
11:16 April 20, 2012 by alecLoTh
Its going to be charged!! No longer blocked - coming in a few months
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