Telecom provider bans Skype's iPhone app

6 April 2009

It was no surprise that the Skype iPhone application, released last week, was downloaded a million times in less than two days. It was also no surprise that service providers would get rather snotty about a piece of software that cuts out the need for their call plans and instead makes good use of the data package.

What is perhaps slightly surprising is the speed with which action has been taken. Within days of Skype's app appearing in the App Store, regulatory authorities in the US and Europe were asked to investigate, with service providers demanding the application only be allowed to make VoIP calls by wifi rather than over a 3G connection.

T-Mobile Deutschland has now gone further and banned iPhone users in Germany from using the app, stating that its usage could cause potential network problems due to high traffic. A spokesperson then stated that a customer's contract prohibits modification of the phone's applications and that the Skype app violates that contract. Furthermore, the Germans are threatening to cancel the contracts of users who use the service on their handset - obviously it's easier to threaten individuals than have a word with cash cow Apple, who legitimised the app by clearing it for download in the first place.

According to other media reports, the ban on Skype may be the tip of the iceberg; eCanadaNow reports that new EU legislation due to be voted on later this month could legitimise such bans and allow service providers to selectively allow and decline applications without providing any rationale or allowing users to voice opposition. Such a ruling would make a mockery of the App Store in European countries, not only for the end users but for developers, who could spend thousands developing apps that satisfy Apple guidelines but still see them banned.

Bloody Germans, causing trouble. Who won the war anyway? Geoff Hurst. Etc etc.

TOPICS:   Mobile

5 comments

  • Joff
    Sounds like the perfect way to get a free iPhone to me! Step 1 - Take out a new 18 month / 24 month contract, receiving a nice new 3G handset Step 2 - Download, install and use (ok 3 steps there) the Skype application Step 3 - Contract cancelled, leaving you with a handset to jailbreak or sell on ebay for £400. Can someone help me get out of my Orange contract? According to their T&Cs I need to reveal my account information and they'll cancel my contract. Where's a Nigerian 419er when you need one?
  • Sean
    "Sounds like the perfect way to get a free iPhone to me! Step 1 - Take out a new 18 month / 24 month contract, receiving a nice new 3G handset Step 2 - Download, install and use (ok 3 steps there) the Skype application Step 3 - Contract cancelled, leaving you with a handset to jailbreak or sell on ebay for £400." They would probably insist you pay the remaining balance for the rest of the contract. Good idea though
  • Joff
    They can insist, but whether they'd get it is another matter. If they want the handset back, it may be involved in an accident with a hammer and nail just before being securely packaged for it's return. It's terrible how accidents can happen around the home these days.
  • danmc
    Skype has been availible on the iphone for over a year using the Fring app
  • Chris
    As per the terms and conditions of the contract, if it is cancelled within the commitment period, you are required to pay for the remaining months line rental. You may not pay it, but then you will be in breach of your contract and it will go against your credit rating and may go to court depending on the amount.

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