In China, Skype has made an effort to show its sensitivity to the concerns of operators. The Chinese-language version of the Skype software only permits calls from one PC to another; SkypeOut calls are not permitted. However, Chinese users can access SkypeOut by downloading the software directly from the Skype Web site.
So it was not a surprise to hear Chinese telecom carriers set barriers for Skype in recent months.
The company also revealed that a Chinese telecommunications operator had begun a paid trial of Verso's NetSpective M-Class filter, a product that is designed to block VoIP calls made using Skype, as well as other peer-to-peer applications. If the paid trial now underway in one Chinese city goes well, the operator will purchase the NetSpective M-Class application filter before the end of the year, it said. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
While Verso said in its release that the use of Skype is illegal in China, the situation is more nuanced.
"The whole thing looks to me like a plot to make back the money China Telecom thinks they lose because of Skype," complained one user in Shenzhen, who said his access was blocked but his wife, also in Shenzhen, was able to access the system. Other users in Shanghai said they were still able to access the system.
Long distance business is an important revenue source for both China Telecom and China Netcom, accounting for about 20% of China Telecom's total revenue last year.