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Mobile operators seek to 'block' Skype in Sweden

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Mobile operators seek to 'block' Skype in Sweden
09:47 CEST+02:00
Swedish telecom operators want to implement technologies that will block mobile phone users in Sweden from making free calls using services like Skype and Viber.

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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