Skype hits out at mobile bullies

Internet-based call service Skype has hit out at plans by European mobile phone networks to charge extra for carrying data to certain web sites.

Jean-Jacques Sahel, the VoIP operator’s European director of government and regulatory affairs, weighed in against recent suggestions that mobile operators should be allowed to charge companies like Skype and Facebook for carrying data.

"What’s worrying us is that some very large telecom companies are starting to say internet, especially when accessed with mobile devices, is a drain on their networks and they want to charge internet companies fees to run data on ‘their’ network,” Sahel said yesterday on his blog.

Citing a recent Reuters report, the outraged exec claimed plans by mobile operators, led by Orange’s French subsidiary, struck at the heart of so-called ‘Net neutrality’ - the principle that all data carried over the internet is treated equally. “Should water companies be allowed to charge garden centres, pasta makers and coffee producers for encouraging demand for water consumption?” he asked.

“[The internet] is not ‘their’ network,” Sahel continued. “It has grown thanks to more than 40,000 networks voluntarily interconnecting to form an open, decentralised network of networks. The operators making the complaints right now only carry the data for a small part of its journey around the web.”

Condemning the proposals as a blow to Net freedom, Sahel concluded: “We should be encouraging entrepreneurs and innovators so that Europe can be globally competitive, with high and rewarding employment. It makes no sense to threaten an entire ecosystem with artificial barriers and a (private!) tax affecting innovation and entrepreneurship.”