Fring-Skype iPhone slanging match: Telcos v freetards
Skype grows up, gets haircut, goes to work for The Man
Analysis P2P VoIP network Skype and client developer Fring have engaged in an epic slanging match after Fring's implementation of mobile-data video calling on the iPhone appeared to result in its ousting from Skype.
At present Apple's own software only allows video calling on the iPhone 4 - the first iPhone to feature a user-facing cam - via the phone's Wi-Fi connection to another iPhone 4. This generally ensures decent call quality; it also placates the mobile networks, who are already struggling to deal with the surge in mobe-data demand precipitated by Apple phones (and to a lesser extent, other smartphones).
Fring's app allows video calling between most smartphones over 3G mobile links as well. However, Fring makes use of other VoIP and IM networks - in particular, of Skype - to actually let its users get in touch with each other, rather as some apps will integrate different IM networks.
Fring, having made it feasible for iPhone users to place video calls via their phones' mobile data radios and tariffs, apparently struggled initially with demand on their own equipment and briefly removed Skype functionality delivered via Skype's API. When they tried to restore it, however, they say that it was found to be blocked from Skype's end.
Fring personnel wrote on a company blog:
Now that fring expanded capacity to support the huge demand for video calling for all users, Skype has blocked us from doing so.
They are afraid of open mobile communication. Cowards.
Skype responded, saying:
An hour or so ago, Fring reported on their blog that we had blocked their access to Skype. I want to make one thing absolutely clear: this is untrue.
Fring’s mis-use of our software was increasingly damaging our brand and reputation with our customers.
Skype built its huge user base by offering free client-to-client calls: most of the costs of this are met by the users, as Skype's peer-to-peer network exploits bandwidth and processor resources from selected user systems ("supernodes") to run itself.
The firm has sought to make money by connecting ordinary phones to the Skype P2P cloud via cheap local calls, allowing ordinary phone users to pay Skype a small sum and get long-distance service which would normally be expensive.
This approach led to much criticism from telcos, who argued that Skype and its users were in effect benefiting from their networks without paying for them. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Skype at first suffered many problems with its paid-for SkypeIn and SkypeOut normal-phone connections, which naturally had to be bought in from telcos.
A non-issue really...
The current UK trend to make "uncapped" data services totally and really capped pretty much solves this issue, as it should. After all, the mobile telcos can't complain about excessive use of their data network when they are selling it on what is now a metered basis. If Fring drives up data usage, well then people that use the service heavily will have to move up the data plan ladder, and pay more. This will of course give the carriers more money to invest in 3G capacity, or move more quickly to LTE. If the carriers don't think they are making enough to pay for expansion of 3G/LTE services, well then, they will have to raise the price of the data plans - simples, yes?
* note to US readers, "Simples, yes?" is the tag line of a popular UK TV commercial featuring meercats promoting a price comparison web site. You wouldn't believe the premise if I told you...
** Meercat icon requested....to show "Simples - yes?" for really obvious solutions, or at least should have been obvious....
No you don't...
> In any case, the telco fatcats would say, you probably only have that smartphone because we
> bought it for you: it's not really yours, it's ours and we'll say what you can do with it and what
> that will cost you.
I payed the manufacturer directly... avoding all that bloody contract stuff... so i you don't want me then I can just move to the next one and so on ;)
Have fun keeping customers once they figure out they can switch and will switch.
"What is a **** is that all the contracts still seem to include the money to pay back a subsidy, even though I didn't get one."
Here in Germany, you can be paid to take a "SIM only" contract. I tool out a 24 month contract and was paid the equivalent of 20 months of the minimum monthly charge.
When it came to renewal, the network operator was less generous, paying me 100 Euros, instead of a phone upgrade.
The other benefit of buying your own handset is that you get the original software and not some constrained and cut down version from the network operator.