Skype gang demands European Union support

The Skype app for the iPhone is only a few days old, but already it has thrown fat on the simmering a row over network neutrality around the globe. Countries including the UK, France, Netherlands and US, are pushing for net neutrality.

After the launch of the Skype iPhone app, T-Mobile enraged customers and supporters of net neutrality by reportedly saying that not only will it prohibit use of VoIP applications on its 3G network, it'll also restrict their use on the company's Wi-Fi hot spot network and cancel the contract of any customers who try to work around the restriction.

Skype, which is owned by eBay, has taken its case to the European Union under the aegis of the Voice on the Net coalition (Von), which was set up at the end of 2007 and whose founding members including Google, Microsoft and Intel.

The submission called on European regulators to ensure that consumers could access and run smartphone applications of their choosing on any public network.

"Blocking of voice applications on mobile devices, such as the announcement of T-Mobile to block Skype on iPhones in Germany, is highly detrimental for consumer welfare in Europe," Von said in a statement on Friday.

The timing couldn't be better - the European parliament is debating the next tranche of regulation for telecoms.

Caroline De Cock, executive director, VON Coalition Europe was also quoted saying, "The European institutions have a unique opportunity to solve this problem in a timely manner by enshrining a set of principles in the Electronic communications framework to prohibit such behaviour, and going beyond mere statements on informing consumers of limitations.

"All mobile operators in France and Germany contractually stipulate that they block P2P and VOIP applications, rendering user choice impossible" added De Cock.

Last Friday in the US, Free Press, which promotes net neutrality, asked the US Federal Communications Commission to investigate whether AT&T was violating US guidelines by preventing the application from running on its 3G network.