Blocking Skype in China

Ah, the joys of free enterprise.

Verso Technologies in Atlanta, Georgia, is well pleased. It’s hooked a contract to act as a virtual p2p censor for a carrier in Communist China.

Yesterday, it announced a “paid trial of Verso’s NetSpective M-Class Solution to filter Skype and other peer to peer (P2P) communications with a Tier-One carrier based in China” marking the “introduction of the NetSpective M-Class with Skype filtering technology, a first of its kind carrier-grade application filter for mobile operators offering a bandwidth optimization and content management tool specifically for the mobile carrier market”.

Company spokesman Yves Desmet says it’s a good deal for Verso and 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.”

And, predicts (hopes?) Desmet, “More and more countries are following China’s direction in evaluating the risks associated with the growing popularity of P2P communication such as Skype, due to intense security concerns with the use of this medium for unlawful purposes and its impact on carriers’ revenues and the bottlenecks their networks are experiencing.”

And why not? China, land of oppression and repression, is full of golden opportunities for Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, and hundreds, if not thousands, of other companies.

As long as the shareholders are happy. If it comes at the expense of freedom and opportunity for the Chinese masses, well that’s a small price to pay for a good quarter.

The Discussion: 10 Comments

someone should hack verso products and bring it down for good.

November 9, 2005 @ 10:29 am | Comment

i think the reasons China is blocking voip:

1. chine telecomm is loosing money when more people, especially businesses are switching to voip calls.

2. citing network traffic is just an excuse. truth is difficult it is for security to tap and record the conversions, since the data packets are spilted. and that probably scares the government the most. (gasp) what if people are talking on voip on how to over throw the government.

so, what we got is a big state own business and the central government act together in their own interests, combined some help from a greedy american company.

November 9, 2005 @ 10:36 am | Comment

well, that’s what US capitalism is built on: greed and selfishness. Those are the invisible hands guiding the market. You can’t then be too suprised when companies and people behave immorally, with unfortunate consequences. The US was a paradoxically a far more powerful and respected nation while the USSR was around to provide it with some ideological competition (and hence restraint). With no competition, it’s become decadent. Thanks god for China, since the EU little chance of providing checks and balances, mainly due to the UK’s role as hired guard dog.

November 9, 2005 @ 12:45 pm | Comment

Government blocking of VoIP is not capitalism. In a capitalist system the telecom companies would have to find a new way to compete with VoIP or die.

November 9, 2005 @ 2:29 pm | Comment

It worth a read of IDG News Service reporter Sumner Lemon’s original story about Verso:

As obnoxious as this is (and as a Skype user, I find it pretty obnoxious), the filtering is, for the moment, aimed only at Skype-to-phone calls, not computer to computer calls. Of course, this might be the thin end of the wedge.

Also, although Skype calls are encrypted, the company is already cooperating with the US government on back doors for wiretapping. Given that the authorized Skype in China is offered through Tom.Com, a creation of Beijing-friendly Li Ka Shing, it seems likely that any such benefits will be extended to the Chinese government as well.

I have no trouble believing that dollars are the main motivator behind this and that security concerns are secondary, although a possible fringe-benefit.

November 9, 2005 @ 6:24 pm | Comment

Agreed, this is 100 percent about money. When I referred to “freedom” in my post i didn’t mean it in the human rights sense, but in regard to freedom to make your own choices.

November 9, 2005 @ 6:41 pm | Comment

This is big business at its nastiest, stomping on the little guy.

November 10, 2005 @ 12:30 pm | Comment

richard is right.
this is 100% about money.

it is the telecom operator, who is also the ISP, blocking skype as a competitor.

this is like SBC blocking vonage (SBC did not). or PCCW blocking City-Telecom in HK (which they did).

a fair-trade law should forbid this. this is what is lacking in China.

don’t try to politicize this.

November 10, 2005 @ 12:35 pm | Comment


i know. my girlfriend tried to download a chinese version of skype directly from their site, but couldn’t. strange.

but she can download from haha.

i think it is truly the lacking of vision on the china telecomm part. instead of see voip as a new opportunity and new revenue, it rushes out and step the little guy to death.

it won’t be long before skype or someone figure out how to get around the filter.

November 10, 2005 @ 3:48 pm | Comment

there are already many other VOIP players.

skype probably also got the (voice call) termination deal via Unicom or Netcom.

China Telecom is probably just tryiing to squeeze some $ from Skype.

November 10, 2005 @ 7:58 pm | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.