O2 Germany will not block VoIP services like Skype any more and has no plans to charge extra for their usage. Until now, all four German mobile network operators had banned the use of mobile VoIP in their terms of services. Technically it was possible to use it, bt it was verboten. But O2 clients can now use internet telephony like any other data service with O2’s internet packs and their cellphones. That is a fairly striking blow against bigger competitors T-Mobile and Vodafone, which at first wanted to block Skype in their networks and now try to charge extra. Internet telephony puts their juicy profits from international phone calls in danger.
In April, Deutsche Telekom said it would block the use of Skype on the iPhone (and on Blackberry) for its German mobile network customers and at its Wifi hotspots. Skype would overstrain the 3G network, said T-Mobile spokesperson Alexander von Schmettow. Skype called this a blatant lie. “They pretend that their action has to do with technical concerns: this is baseless“, General Counsel Robert Miller wrote on Skype’s company blog.
T-Mobile and Vodafone were even planning to boycott Nokia’s latest flagship device, German daily DIE WELT reported, because Skype will soon come pre-installed on the new Nokia N97 devices and will be deeply integrated into the device’s address book. Russia may even ban Skype entirely to protect domestic firms.
T-Mobile Germany now tries to charge €9.95 per month for a VoIP option because its “always on” nature causes “extra costs”. But O2 Germany doesn’t seem to have such problems. “We have one of the most modern and fastest mobile data networks in Europe. Our clients should experience it without constraints, no matter whether they are surfing, do e-mails, instant messaging or even making phone calls”, says Lutz Schüler, CEO for sales and marketing at Telefónica O2 Germany. “By opening our mobile highspeed network for VoIP services we set new benchmarks for the mobile Internet.“
O2’s network reaches nearly 100 per cent of the population, today’s press release states. They offer HSDPA with 7,2 Mbps in “big parts of Germany” and also HSUPA for fast uploads up to 1,4 Mbps. This is more than enough for Skype which even works on dial-up connection with 33.6Kbps. O2’s Internet-Pack-M costs €10 and allows 200 MB of usage at HSDPA speed, before it gets throttled to slow GPRS, this should allow 2 hours of Skype calls to every country in the world.