What goes around, they say, comes around.

There is no doubt that in the consumer market, Skype has been one of the most disruptive technologies in modern telecommunications.  Essentially, by making use of existing consumer telecom broadband connections, Skype enables a high quality telephone like experience at no charge for calls between consumers that both use Skype.  Currently, this is available on a variety of platforms from mobile devices to PCs and even entertainment consoles for the living room.

Since inception, Skype has often been characterized as having one mission: the complete destruction of the traditional telecom market of charging for phone calls.  Of course, history can be a funny thing sometimes.  Here’s a few quotes to prove the point…

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“The telephone is a 100-year-old technology. It’s time for a change. Charging for phone calls is something you did last century.”

“I knew it was over when I downloaded [the application]”

“We believe in communication openness”

Can you guess the names behind these quotes?  (Hint: a founder of Skype, A former chairman at the FCC, a founder of Fring)  Okay, time’s up — the answers are in the order of the hint.

While you probably have heard of Skype and the FCC, you might not be familiar with Fring.

Yet.

Fring might sound more familiar than you think.  Essentially, by making use of existing Skype connections, Fring enables a high quality video call like experience at no charge for calls between consumers that both use Fring. Currently, this is limited to specific mobile devices but Fring has plans to expand this connectivity to more platforms such as mobile devices to PCs and even entertainment consoles for the living room.

So in other words, Fring is riding Skype’s network and offering a free service, and apparently Skype is none to happy about it. Having any Déjà vu?

While the immediate thought of the “chickens coming home to roost” might be amusing for those that remember how Skype thundered on the telecom scene years ago, the reported response from Skype leaves little to the imagination: they have allegedly blocked Fring, saying that Fring is “damaging our brand and reputation.” There is some debate about the actual ‘blocking,’ but it is clear that Skype has decided that Fring is no longer welcome, at least in its current format, on Skype.

Here’s another choice quote from the folks at Fring:

“We are disappointed that Skype, who once championed the cause of openness, is now attempting to muzzle competition, even to the detriment of its own users”

So, what do you think?  Does Skype have a legitimate right to block an application that rides on their network? And isn’t ironic that Skype is involved in such a dispute?

Having any Déjà vu?

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9 thoughts on “In a Bit of Irony, Skype Allegedly Blocks Service on Their Network

  1. Talk about irony. Skype blocking another company from using it's network because they feel it's "damaging" to them. This fits the adage "I can't make this stuff up!" perfectly.

    1. I'm discussing this over on Google Buzz too… my thought was that we need a bit more "punk" in our telecom upstarts. That said, the ability for something like this to play out in public over blog postings (okay "news releases") is just fascinating.

      That said, I found myself saying I'm not giving up Skype until something better comes along. Then it hit me — is there even a place for something better to come along?

      Anyone taking bets on if the FCC will weigh in on this?

  2. Not sure about the FCC, since Skype *is* proprietary. What I'm hoping is that Fring will massage their protocol into something that's XMPP/Jabber compatible and get compatibility with Google Video Chat, which shouldn't be too hard to do. That, or make a Fring desktop client for the three big platforms (PC, Mac, Linux) and open-source their own network protocol to solidify their pro-openness stance.

    Not sure if the FCC needs to get involved here, but I'm sure they'll somehow do so anyway.

    1. I'd looked to Skype for that "open" approach but as it changed hands it seemed to be going down a path of no return for being closed. Then there was the Digium (Asterisk) work done for using Skype as an adapter (trunk) but it seemed limited to me.

      I think you are spot on with the XMPP/Jabber massage idea.

  3. hey skype – when someone has a bad experience using your service across my broadband network, does that damage my brand and reputation? can i block you as a result?

  4. Hey Skype, you just lost all creditability with me. You claim to be open, but are you really open. For Skype to say "that Fring is “damaging our brand and reputation” I say how? It would seem that Skype doesn't care for competition. How ironic indeed!

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