EC antitrust case on the way for European iPhone operators?
On Friday, on the meeting of EPP-ED Group of European Parliament in Tallinn, Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Communication, Mr Juhan Parts, condemned telecom companies preventing the open use of Skype in their networks.
Shortly after Skype’s iPhone App launch, which allows people to make P2P free calls to their contacts on Skype, Deutsche Telecom AG announced they will prevent its customers from using Skype on Apple Inc.’s iPhone as in violation to iPhone subscription contracts.
The antitrust debate
Unwanted competition from Skype, which is best known for its free calling and low-cost worldwide rates, is certainly threatening the profits of all European iPhone traders, Deutche Telecom’s T-Mobile, Telefónica SA’s O2 and TeliaSonera. The measures taken against Skype vary – T-Mobile has turned off all VOIP traffic including the traffic on WiFi, Telefónica’s O2 still permit Skype calls on WiFi.
While German telecom company is obviously protecting their interests as Skype tends to significantly cut their profits from iPhone owners, this kind of move violates Europe’s consumer policy at its heart. Given this, Mr Parts raised a question if anyone could actually imagine a power company pulling the plug of particular washing machines. He concluded with the importance of granting end-user rights in European telecom framework in general.
The above condemnation is not the only reaction to the proceedings introduced by Deutsche Telecom. As the revision of EU’s telecoms legislation is being prepared and expected to be finalised sometime in May, Skype has met with the members of European Parliament already during the debate on Electronic Communications Framework.
In the light of the statements from German Federation of Consumers, European Consumers’ Association, Que Choisir of France and the number of influential MEPs, it’s very likely to hit the antitrust case from European Commission if Deutsche Telecom and others are not going to revise their policies.