China May Wipe Out SkypeOut, VoIP
By TED GLANZER
TMCnet Communications and Broadband Columnist
Further cracking down on how its citizens use the Internet, China's government is considering banning the use of unregulated VoIP services, Forbes reported yesterday.
Skype, which already has had an interesting week, appears to be the primary target of the possible crackdown because the cost of international calls through SkypeOut is a fraction of those made over China's wireline and mobile operators.
As TMC's Rich Tehrani noted in this blog entry, if the Chinese government follows through, Skype's place, not to mention existence, in China's fertile telecommunications market could take a serious hit.
The choices that China's citizens have as to where to obtain VoIP services are already limited. Indeed, just six of the country's broadband carriers are permitted to operate VoIP, Forbes reported.
Note to U.S. citizens: complain if you must about your wireline phone bills, nebulous surcharges and all. Just take heart in knowing that things could be a whole lot worse.
Indeed, while those perplexing surcharges are a pain in the wallet, imagine being "blacklisted" and having to pay a fine for NOT using a telecom's service.
Yes, China Telecom's Shenzhen branch has blacklisted users of SkypeOut and is also seeking to fine users of VoIP products, Forbes reported.
Apparently, much like its citizens, free enterprise in China is not free.
Strict restrictions on Internet use are nothing new to China's citizens, who often face harsh penalties, including lengthy jail time, for their on-line activity.
The government is keeping a watchful eye on blog postings and recently, Chinese authorities, with a dubious assist from Yahoo!, arrested and jailed journalist Shi Tao for sending an e-mail to a Web site that allegedly contained sensitive Communist Party information.
All of which leads to the conclusion that, despite its best efforts to promote newfound freedoms through its Olympic goodwill p.r. machine, China is still, and will remain for some time, a totalitarian state.
Ted Glanzer is assistant editor for TMCnet. For more articles by Ted Glanzer, please visit:
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