:Ben Metcalfe Blog

F’ked over twice by Skype “free calls” announcement

Skype may have announced free calls to all US/Canadian registered landlines and mobile phones… but it only applies if you’re also calling from US or Canada.

By introducing this limitation they’re actually fucking those of us not living in North America twice!

You see, the only difference between me calling a given US landline from London, and someone else calling the same US landline from New York is that my call has to go some extra distance in the IP network. But that’s the bit that’s FREE!

So that’s me fucked over #1

But then when I do start talking to my friend on the landline, I’m still getting charged the same “SkypeOut” rate that I always have been (SkypeOut is the cost for routing the call onto the traditional PTSN phone network).

Well, clearly Skype have negotiated a vastly discounted (or free) deal with a national PTSN carrier to make their “free calls” announcement viable. So when I make my landline call now Skype are making an even bigger profit because I’m not seeing any reduction in my call charge!

That’s me fucked over #2!

So, economics (or just money moans aside) it got me thinking. Doesn’t this caveat completely turn it’s back on the “power of the network” – he very concept Skype was based upon?

The whole point of VoIP is that geography doesn’t matter – you don’t need to know or care where you are calling from, or where you are calling to.

Well, that combined with the fact that IP-to-IP calls costs nothing to serve, and that you only need to start paying when you need to use a PTSN node to route your call the traditional phone system.

Suddenly that’s all changed. Geography now does matter (again?). And something that is free (the IP-to-IP portion of the call) is now having an indirect charge placed upon it for certain customers in certain circumstances.

Clearly the “North-American callers only” caveat is not a technical issue, it’s a matter of economics. But equally, why do I want to be treated like a second-class customer?

There’s plenty of other VoIP provides out there to furnish with my business.