Saturday, June 04, 2005

Skype Starts to Dance with Regulators

Mark Evans

It is interesting to read a story in TechWeb News about how Skype is tyring to sell itself to the FCC as a "enhancement" to traditional phone service rather than a replacement. By selling itself in this manner, Skype hopes to avoid from having to comly with the FCC rules that VOIP service providers offer access to 911. "We're an an enhancement like fax," Skype spokeswoman Kelly Larabee told TechWeb News. "You should know that Skype is not an emergency service."
The flaw in Skype's argument is as it offers premium based services such as SkypeIn and SkypeOut, Skype starts to look less like a rebel P2P play, and more like a fast-growing VOIP service provider. Given that Skype now offers U.S. phone numbers through SkypeIn and SkypeOut, it appears the company will have a big challenge convincing the FCC that it shouldn't comply with the 911 rules. If Skype is reluctant to get into the 911 fray, it will be interesting to see if it offers SkypeIn and SkypeOut in Canada given the CRTC introduced rules last month making 911 service mandatory for all VOIP companies.
At the end of the day, Skype may not want to incur the cost of offering 911 service but it may have no choice given the regulatory environment.


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