Verso Technologies Inc., of Atlanta, Georgia, hopes to soon win a
contract to block Chinese Internet users from using eBay Inc.’s Skype
VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) software, the company said Monday.
A Chinese telecommunications operator has 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,
Verso said in a statement. 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.
“The trial is representative of the significant opportunities for
Verso’s products in the Chinese market, where VoIP is highly regulated
and the use of Skype software has been deemed illegal,” said Yves
Desmet, Verso’s senior vice president of worldwide sales, in a
Verso did not provide additional details of the trial to block Skype or name the Chinese operator behind the project.
In September, China Telecommunications Corp. (China Telecom), one of
two major fixed-line operators in China, began blocking SkypeOut calls
made from Shenzhen, a southern Chinese city that lies along the border
with Hong Kong. SkypeOut is a service that allows someone with the
Skype software installed on their PC to make international phone calls
at a fraction of the cost that a telecommunications operator would
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 Ltd., 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.
In China, Skype has made an effort to show its sensitivity to the
concerns of operators. The Chinese-language version of the Skype
software made available through a partnership with Tom Online Inc. 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, http://www.skype.com.
By Sumner Lemon – IDG News Service (Taipei Bureau)