Comment to “Skype Blocked at China”

At a previous post, “Skype’s road to China“, I introduced my view point of Skype at China, not bright as they are at other lands, due to the restrictions of the regulations and market circumstances. Along with the emerging technology/product from Verso, the “blocking of PC-to-phone”, ie. SkypeOut, was reported to be blocked at Shenzhen and other three cities at China.

A lot of report titiled “Skype-blocked at China” were headlined at many of world famouse relevant newpapers and journals. That kind of activity was even regarded as “bureaucratic politics” by Clark, managing director of BDA China.

The blocking of SkypeOut calls from Shenzhen started several days before Verso announced on Sept. 14 the availability of the NetSpective M-Class application filter, which the company billed as “carrier-grade Skype filtering technology.”

While Verso said in its release that the use of Skype is illegal in China, the situation is more nuanced.

Chinese government officials have been generally tolerant of VoIP software, such as Skype, that is used to make calls from one PC to another. But the ability of Skype users to make calls to a phone via the SkypeOut service is more sensitive, because this directly affects the revenue that operators such as China Telecom earn from international phone calls.

On the one hand, the Chinese government owns the carriers and will act to defend their interests, said Duncan Clark, managing director of BDA China, a telecommunications consultancy in Beijing. However, the Chinese government also wants to see the price of making phone calls come down, he said.

“It’s a question of bureaucratic politics,” Clark said.

It’s well known that Skype is different from Vonage, the latter is protected at USA as a VoIP service provider according to the FCC regulations, while the former is not. Because Skype makes money from network infrastructure of other telco companies without any revenue sharing or settlement mechanism.

At China, PC-to-Phone and Phone-to-Phone VoIP services are restricted to be “basic telecom service”, allowed to only a few state run telco companies. Althoug foreign companies will get more penetration opportunities along with WTO openness of telecom market, that would not benefit Skype, unless Skype succeed in transformation to a more transparent and open technology, e.g, communication protocol, key management, billing data output, interop with SIP, and etc.

It’s obvious that Skype represent a killer technology to provide voice and video services at a very lower cost (of course, not zero like what Skype spend on their services). It’s the responsibility of the government (in China, it’s MII) to represent consumers to force the service providers to make use of advanced technologies at the possibly earliest time (if they won’t, new licenses will be issued to other providers). But, as to China Telecom, China Netcom, and other service providers, they won’t give up their monopoly privileges currently have unless they are forced to. So “blocking skype at China” is only a tactic action to prepare themselves for the uncertainty of the future regulations.

The differences between PC and “Phone” are becoming more and more obsecure, so it will be more and more difficult to distinguish “PC to PC“ against “PC to Phone”. That’s why I suggest Skype’s road to China lies at penetrating into those handheld devices with WiMax, WiFi, GRPS, 3G wireless link.

7 Responses to Comment to “Skype Blocked at China”

  1. Josh says:

    I was in China last month (Shanghai and Chongqing) and had no problems using Skype or SkypeOut. But perhaps that’s changed.

    I’m going to be traveling quite a bit to China over the next year, and Skype’s important to me. Would it be possible to get around this block by using call forwarding and a second Skype id?

    Example: User1 tries to call an American cell phone from China. It’s blocked. So User1 creates a second Skype id, User2, and sets it so that calls to User2 get forwarded to the American cell number that he wanted to call in the first place. User1 calls User2, call gets forwarded to the cell phone, success.

    That would work, right? It’d be a pain to have to change the call forwarding number on User2 every time you want to make a SkypeOut call, but it would just take a quick login/logout, right? Tell me if this doesn’t make sense.

  2. zhaol says:

    I guess it sounds good.

    SkypeUser1@China -> SkypeUser2@USA ->(SkypeOut)-> MobilePhone@USA

    Because the network link at China seems to be PC to PC call, so not limited by the regulations and won’t be blocked by the skype-filter rule (only SkypeOut will be blocked according to those report).

    If you succeed, please let us know.🙂

  3. […] 如前面的预测,Skype果然开始了与国内运营商的合作谈判,但是谈判会如何进行呢?国际上,将会越来越多的大大小小的厂商会推出基于P2P技术的各种新产品,竞争地位的运营商推出相应的应用来挑战主导运营商,都会全力来赶这趟P2P大潮。电信和网通两大主导固网运营商在信产部条文保护时间内,必须尽快研究拿出战略性的、全局性的对策,并迅速执行落实,不能停留在试探性的、测试性的“控制”活动上。疏导不受控业务的同时,开拓可控的P2P业务平台,以及相应的计费运营模式。时间越来越紧迫了。 […]

  4. […] Finally, the assault on Skype as a protocol has already begun. Verso, a US company based out of Atlanta already announced a pilot program with a tier-one carrier in China (either China Telecom or China Netcom) to block Skype. I personally know of a group of engineers in China who have recently come up with an alternative method to block Skype, supposedly much less complicated and much easier to implement. Look for Google Talk’s main competition, Skype, to start to run into complications with local telecom monopolies in central Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Problems for Skype equate to opportunities for the competition, especially a competition that is more inclined to share the wealth. […]

  5. zhaol says:

    阚凯力抨击网络电话受阻 目前试点实为封杀

    新浪科技新闻
    2005/12/30

      12月29日下午2点,北京邮电大学教授、国内知名电信专家阚凯力做客新浪聊天室,谈包括中国3G等在内的电信热点问题。在聊天中,阚凯力猛烈抨击运营商阻碍网络电话(VOIP)的发展。

      试点是在封杀

      他说,网络电话是IP技术用于话音的一个重大的动向,其最大的特点就是由于IP技术是不可能被垄断的,所以,网络电话同样也是不可被垄断的。并且,网络电话可以做到达到全世界都是免费的,只要交了宽带上网费,就可以免费打电话。“而为什么话音比宽带上网要贵那么多,这实际上就是运营商利用自己的物理网的相对垄断的地位,把话音业务规定为电信基础业务,所以,实际上是对消费者进行了不合理的收费”。

      由于IP电话必然对固话运营商现有的电话资费结构造成巨大的冲击,阚凯力称“目前中国电信和网通集团在网络电话试点上已经有串谋勾结的倾向,在自己的地盘上没有丝毫的推广网络电话的积极性”。他说,“所以我们要问,这种试点是这种新技术推广的试点还是对它进行封杀的试点?!”

      南北拆分变成了南北割据

      阚凯力说,这种做法也就宣告了三年前对中国电信南北拆分、互不进入这种设想的一种否定。

      他还认为,据一些消息说,双方的总部都将逐步的削减南方网通和北方电信的投资,让他们自生自灭,那么就可以得出结论,南北拆分只不过是把原来中国电信一统天下的垄断,变成了南北割据的垄断而已,没有任何其他的实际。

      他说,所以从这种网络电话的试点的现象可以看出,一个是中国电信的南北拆分是一种无效拆分,同时目前的对网络电话的试点也是不可能有所成效的。

  6. […] There was a report on "VoIP in China" at TMCnet.com and Theregister retailed it yesterday. VoIP technology is a revolution brought by the IP prevalence. It lowers the operation costs of both the carriers and the consumers. See my previous post on "Skype blocked at China", where I expressed my points on the way in China for Skype and other web phones. (Dr.Kaili Kan's article "VoIP in China" gave a very good background information on VoIP evolution in China around recent five years) […]

  7. […] lowers the operation costs of both the carriers and the consumers. See my previous post on “Skype blocked at China“, where I expressed my points on the way in China for Skype and other web […]

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