Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Through the IP grapevine

Through the IP grapevine

A hyper-mega-supervalue reader told me earlier today that he recently heard that a couple of members of UK super-dooper-uber regulator OFCOM have joined the Skype team. I am hoping to get some independent confirmation of this, as well as some insight as to their previous roles at OFCOM. I am genuinely intrigued, because despite Skype's oft-stated views that its flavor of VoIP should be beyond the reach of national regulators (and let me state here that I agree completely in principle), the sad reality is that, once you start selling numbers for inbound calls, interconnecting to the PSTN, and therefore unwittingly opening up possibilities for premium rate number abuse, SPIT, or worse, you become exposed to a lot of tedious national regulatory issues.

Ironically, despite its unique global, supra-national scope, I worry that Skype could end up having numerous nationally-based (for which read "largely artificial and mind-numbingly dull") regulatory complications ahead. Make no mistake, I love Skype - it has genuinely changed my life. I would hate to see its progress bogged down by legacy national regulation, but no doubt a lot of powerful people have an intense interest in maintaining the status quo at national level. Maybe the last line of incumbent defense is neither pricing nor technology, but rather regulatory lobbying, consumer paranoia and litigation (and I am wondering how long we have to wait for the first wave of negative advertising from telcos). I am skeptical that it would ultimately succeed, but it might make life difficult/painful/costly for Skype in the near term. This would seem to make my source's story all the more credible - if you were Skype, you would probably look to bolster your regulatory expertise too, in a New York (make that a London) minute.
Permalink posted by James Enck : 10:37 PM


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