Skype increases pressure on UK operators that block VoIP calls

Skype is seeking talks with UK mobile operators in an attempt to persuade them to open their network to Skype customers.

Currently, 3UK and O2 UK allow callers to use Skype's VoIP service, Vodafone has imposed an additional monthly fee to use the service, while Orange and T-Mobile both ban the use of Skype.

Skype lodged a complaint with UK telecoms regulator Ofcom last year, claiming its services were being hampered by mobile operators. Following further lobbying, Ofcom has now confirmed that it may intervene to ensure operators provide open access. While the regulator said it would not look to impose minimum service quality levels, it did agree to monitor the approach being taken by operators on how they manage the traffic.

However, Jean-Jacques Sahel, head of European regulatory affairs at Skype, told Bloomberg in a telephone interview that Europe continued to suffer from a huge amount of restrictions and was keen to push ahead. "You would expect us to be more impatient than Ofcom," Sahel said. He added that this latest hint by Ofcom is "helpful and should allow us to continue the dialog. We need the few that lag behind to catch up."

What might also influence operators are the plans by Microsoft, which completed its $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype last month, to incorporate the service in its Windows Phone products in an effort to compete with rivals Apple and Google.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see the Cellular News article

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