Friday, October 15, 2010

Carriers to lift ban on skype in Japan, allow usage over 3G

The reason that Skype for Android is not available in the market is now more clear. It was apparently banned by at least AU and Docomo. Docomo maintains a list of allowed and prohibited services, which includes streaming radio, P2P, Voip (including Skype), and MMOs like Second Life. I couldn't find a similar list for AU and Softbank.

According to the Nikkei, (Japanese, login required; English; login not required but the article is different), AU is lifting the ban and will allow skype over 3G with the release of the IS03 Android phone from Sharp. (More on the IS03 in English here and here.) Docomo is expected to follow suite. Both the IS03 and Skype with AU should be available from November.
KDDI(au)はインターネット電話ソフト大手のスカイプ・テクノロジーズ(ルクセンブルク)と提携する。11月からスマートフォン(高機能携帯電話)で、通話料が基本的に無料のソフト「スカイプ」を利用できるようにする。米アップル製「iPhone(アイフォーン)」など国内外のスマートフォンと無料か割安な料金で通話ができる。NTTドコモもスカイプを解禁する方針で。。。
But there is bad and ugly along with the good it seems. Au and Skype are partnering to route calls through AU's network, which is what Skype and Verizon did in the US, resulting in good quality, but the freaking app only worked on 3G - no wifi. Now in the US, there is the official app, which only works on wifi. In the beginning, the only Skype app for Android used voice minutes for calls. What a mess. AU is still considering whether to charge voice minutes for Skype calls on their network on the one hand, but saying they don't expect to take a revenue hit if calls were free on the other.
Because calls between Skype users are free, mobile-phone companies have feared their revenue would decline should they make the service available. For that reason, the Skype app was viewed as verboten until now, according to KDDI Senior Vice President Takashi Tanaka.

The firm will allow Skype calls between au subscribers to go through its network rather than the Internet, which will put the quality of those calls on par with regular telephone conversations. It is still exploring whether to charge cellular fees on those calls.

And even if the calls are free, KDDI expects a muted impact on revenue because it anticipates growth from smartphone data transmission fees.

8 comments:

  1. I called my brother via skype on the iPhone last week. I couldn't when I was using my docomo buffalo wifi.

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  2. Hmmm... That's interesting, I can place calls using Docomo's 3G. Maybe the router is had some ports closed off...?

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  3. This shouldn't matter if you can sideload an international apk, though, right? I mean, data is data after all. I seem to recall reading somebody already managed to circumvent the wifi-only restriction on the US version.

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  4. Yeah, probably won't matter.

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  5. Doesn't that Docomo list of approved services only apply to tethering? Unless there's a smartphone that can run second life, p2p etc...

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  6. theoretically, no. Practically, yes.

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  7. So, does that mean you can't use streaming radio on Docomo at all? That would really suck...

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  8. No, that only means it is technically prohibited, just like tethering is technically prohibited...

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