In the latest news that may affect Shanghaiist’s calls across the Pacific, Skype claims that it is in discussions with “Chinese operators” and is “optimistic” that SkypeOut will launch in China soon (we’re not really sure what launching would entail, since we can already use SkypeOut here). Skype’s chief also suggested that a supposed Skype-blocking-system released by a company in Atlanta is nothing but “vapourware.” Ouch! The Financial Times has the story:
Niklas Zennström, Skype chief executive, waved aside suggestions that Verso Technologies, a US company, was close to selling an anti-Skype filtering system to a leading Chinese operator. Skype offers its free computer-to-computer telephony service to users in China, but does not directly market its fee-paying “SkypeOut” computer-to-telephone service because of regulatory restrictions.
“We have quite a good relationship with the operators here in China and are in dialogue with them,” Mr Zennström said during a visit to Beijing. “I am optimistic that we will be able to launch the SkypeOut service in China.”
Mr Zennström declined to forecast when Skype would be able to introduce the SkypeOut service, which allows users to make calls around the world at a fraction of the price charged by traditional operators. However, his comments were the most direct response by Skype to the announcement last week by Atlanta-based Verso that it was marketing a Skype-blocking system to an un-identified Chinese “tier-one carrier”. Verso’s announcement fuelled speculation that Chinese state-owned operators would seek to block cut-rate telephone services based on “voice over internet protocol”, or VoIP.
But Mr Zennström said Skype had found no Chinese operator that was using or reviewing Verso’s product and suggested the US company had played a “smart PR trick”. “I don’t think they really have a product. I think it’s much more of a PowerPoint, press release, ‘vapourware’ thing.” rather than a real product.” he said.
Verso replied: “This is not something we have just come up with in the month of September. This is something we have been working on for more than a year.” Dicks. One potential stumbling block for Skype is the fact that it encrypts its calls, making it difficult for the Chinese government to listen in on them. “Of course you need to make sure that users’ privacy is protected and at the same time that you comply with local laws and regulations,” Zennström said. “Those are the kind of things that are being reviewed.”
Also on Shanghaiist:
Damn you, China Telecom!
Ask Shanghaiist: Expat phone home