back to article Fring-Skype iPhone slanging match: Telcos v freetards

P2P VoIP network Skype and client developer Fring have engaged in an epic slanging match after Fring's implementation of mobile-data video calling on the iPhone appeared to result in its ousting from Skype. At present Apple's own software only allows video calling on the iPhone 4 - the first iPhone to feature a user-facing cam …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No you don't...

    > In any case, the telco fatcats would say, you probably only have that smartphone because we

    > bought it for you: it's not really yours, it's ours and we'll say what you can do with it and what

    > that will cost you.

    I payed the manufacturer directly... avoding all that bloody contract stuff... so i you don't want me then I can just move to the next one and so on ;)

    Have fun keeping customers once they figure out they can switch and will switch.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Handset subsidies

      I own my own handset too. The money went directly to Nokia.

      What is a **** is that all the contracts still seem to include the money to pay back a subsidy, even though I didn't get one.

      I want the EU to stop this. The reason that everyone has hundreds of spare phone chargers, is that they have had hundreds of phones, and the reason is this. If they have to pay contract rates that subsidise a new phone, then they want a new phone every 12 months.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Simplicity, not subsidy

        Don't know if other networks do the same, but O2 do "Simplicity" SIM only contracts which are way cheaper than the same contract bought with a phone.

        (eg. 18 month contract for an iPhone, £35 a month for 300 min, unlimited texts and the standard amount of data. 12 month contract on Simplicity, same minutes, texts and data, £15 per month)

      2. paulf
        Thumb Up


        Check your network for SIM only deals. Voda do them, as do O2 (stated above). These exclude the handset subsidy that would be paid in a normal contract.

        I got my own sim-free handset (HTC Hero) and took out a SIM only contract extension. Result? Hero that gets upgraded when HTC upgrade it* rather than when my operator borks the software with their own "enhancements" (blocks/knobbles).

        The contract costs about half what it would when bought with a phone and I'm only locked in for 12 months.

        Its a hefty initial outlay but based on my experience I doubt I will buy anything other than handsets outright now.

        *Yeah I know HTC weren't speedy updating it, but I understand Orange and 3 customers had to wait a further 3 weeks or so beyond HTC's already delayed release.

        1. MontyPole

          Confused and Slightly Off Topic

          I'm probably missing something. You buy your own hand set, say £400, you take out a SIM only contract for 12 months at £15 a month. By my arithmetic that averages at £48.33 a month over a year. Plus calls etc.

          You sell your handset and upgrade every year(?) But what you make on the sale won't meet the cost of the new handset. So if you sell your handset for, say, £200, buy another for £400, take out another £15/month SIM only contract, that still averages at £31.66 a month. Plus calls etc.

          Yeh, you've got the 'full' software and the I'm superior to you advantage of being able to say "I own my handset", but what are you actually gaining where it matters, in financial terms.

          I'm on an 18 month contract with Orange. I pay £35.00 a month. Plus calls etc. I got a new N97 last year. In July next year I know I can upgrade to the latest handset from whichever manufacturer I choose, change my operator if I want to, sell my old one and off I go again.

          Maybe I'm being simplistic, but who is getting the best deal here?

        2. BristolBachelor Gold badge

          O2 & Simplicity


          I was interested in the Simplicity deal, but I have an old contract (it subsidised a Nokia 9110 a long time ago!) that is actually cheaper. The bundled crap doesn't help me because spending most of my time overseas I can't use it.

          The thing is if you do the maths, after the subsidy the monthly cost of the airtime is very low; that's what I want to pay!

          I tried P&G but you have to be very careful or you loose your number and can't get it back (Things like have to get the phone to register on the network often and remember to top-up when the credit times out).

      3. JohnG

        Handset subsidies

        "What is a **** is that all the contracts still seem to include the money to pay back a subsidy, even though I didn't get one."

        Here in Germany, you can be paid to take a "SIM only" contract. I tool out a 24 month contract and was paid the equivalent of 20 months of the minimum monthly charge.

        When it came to renewal, the network operator was less generous, paying me 100 Euros, instead of a phone upgrade.

        The other benefit of buying your own handset is that you get the original software and not some constrained and cut down version from the network operator.

      4. karakalWitchOfTheWest


        I want a new handset every 6 months, but I really don't see the point of subsidising contracts also.

        The providers should be forced to sell only the pure tariff so people would see what money is made of the "no-cost"-handset...

        Handsets are way to expensive also because of this contracts... Nobody can explain to me, why a HTC Desire or a iPhone 3 1/2 should cost about 600 to 1000 EUR when I can get a full netbook with a 3G-modem for 300-400 EUR.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Hard to know who to side with, here.

    My experience of VoIP on 3G is pretty variable - and on WiFi - so I don't really think the Telcos have too much to worry about right now.

    Fring is neat, but with no obvious means of making money, their development and feature enhancement isn't exactly pacey.

    Skype is too much of a closed system, when good open standards for VoIP exist: but it's brought VoIP to the masses in a way that other approaches haven't.

    At some point in the future, VoIP (and video) are bound to be pervasive, and bound to be unambiguously part of the data bundle. But I suspect there are going to be lots more shouty tiffs like the Fring vs Skype battle before we get there.

  3. BristolBachelor Gold badge
    Black Helicopters

    Skype says

    So skype says they didn't do it.

    But then goes on to justify why they would do it...

    I smell fish

    1. James Thomas

      I read that as...

      We didn't block them, but now they've given us the idea and even already blemed us we will now, and here's why...

  4. Andrew Bush
    Jobs Horns


    Well this certainly has an iSmell to it.

    Imagine what a pain it would have been for Skype if the possibility of iFacetalking with people on Skype was mysteriously blocked by some dubious edict issued from the Cupertino overlords.

    So Apple get Skype on board by twisting their arm behind their back over Fring and offering some potential revenue sharing deal at the same time.

    1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      Why yes...

      ... of course! How silly of El Reg not to realise that Apple are behind everything that is evil, even when the article is *clearly* about two COMPLETELY DIFFERENT COMPANIES.

      I can't wait until 2020, by which time it'll be fashionable and trendy to hate Microsoft again.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        Before it makes its way back to Microsoft, all that hatred (by a vocal few and sick souls) will first have to jump to Google, then to Linux and Linus Torvalds, because, let's be honest, there's a problem in Linux waiting for derision to find it, then maybe Microsoft will be ready to be hated, but that assumes one big thing - will they be around in 10 years?

      2. Arctic fox

        Touch sensitive old chap?

        Hating MS has never gone out of fasion. Just take a look at any article here at Reg that shows that company in a less than flattering light (and yes that happens pretty often) and you will see PLENTY of ranting against Redmond. There was an article recently here entitled "What would it take to make you a Microsoft fan?" or some such. You should have seen the thread associated with that piece! The howling was deafening. No, it is not true that MS get an easy ride whilst poor put upon Apple get the shaft.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      @Andy Twiglet

      Your post reeks of Apple conspiracies around every corner, and that is the classic definition of paranoia.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Corporations have no moral."

        "Your post reeks of Apple conspiracies around every corner, and that is the classic definition of paranoia."

        You being paranoid doesn't mean "they" aren't trying to get you .... but that's the side issue.

        Main issue : "Corporations have no moral." Never forget that.

        Also it's known that moralless entities love conspiracies. Usually covered by innocent looking words like "common interests", "auxiliary funding" and "corporate agreements".

        Essentially, every one of these are conspiracies. Against competitors, politicians, public.

    3. B 9

      wow, hallucinate much?

      So in an article that at no point mentions Apple, you have somehow managed to work up a good fashionable case of Apple hatred? It's Apple's fault? Really?

      Why would Apple want this blocked? Apple published Facetime as an open standard so anyone can use it. Apple WANTS this adopted by as many people as possible.

      Time to dial down the frothing at the mouth blind hatred of Apple and start to see the world a bit more clearly.

  5. Robert Hill

    A non-issue really...

    The current UK trend to make "uncapped" data services totally and really capped pretty much solves this issue, as it should. After all, the mobile telcos can't complain about excessive use of their data network when they are selling it on what is now a metered basis. If Fring drives up data usage, well then people that use the service heavily will have to move up the data plan ladder, and pay more. This will of course give the carriers more money to invest in 3G capacity, or move more quickly to LTE. If the carriers don't think they are making enough to pay for expansion of 3G/LTE services, well then, they will have to raise the price of the data plans - simples, yes?

    * note to US readers, "Simples, yes?" is the tag line of a popular UK TV commercial featuring meercats promoting a price comparison web site. You wouldn't believe the premise if I told you...

    ** Meercat icon show "Simples - yes?" for really obvious solutions, or at least should have been obvious....

    1. Pawel 1

      Partly true

      With voice calls, they have a much better market segmentation (cross-border calls are more expensive, etc) and higher earnings for the same amount of data transferred. Hence they prefer standard voice.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      People are wasting their money...

      the telcos have nowhere near the backend capacity to enable users to have truely uncapped data services. That applies to mobes, laptops, desktops, anything that requires bandwidth. Here, Canada, telcos sell an up to service, like 4Mbps, 8Mbps, etc..., and many of these telcos still have uncapped usage, which is great.

      The thing that the telcos don't make clear to customers is that this is an up to service and evening and weekends the customer could be getting 100kbps, or lower - funny how the don't emphasize that. In fact, for a business to have a guaranteed T1 service is very much more expensive than a home user to have 8Mbps and average well over the T1s capacity.

      Quit wasting money, use simple phones, low bandwidth usage and don't get conned into expensive contracts. Simple really.

  6. paulf

    Can't decide - Fring and Skype are both crap!

    I have Fring's Android client on my Android 2.1 Hero. It is horrendously unreliable when connecting to Skype for skype out calls over 3G (just voice - not video). I don't think I even use it now as it connects about once every 20 attempts.

    Thing is though - if I've paid for a data package that allows a set amount of data each month, my mobile network should be able to serve up that data each month, not just assume I probably wont use x amount of it. So the network investment argument is BS if they're selling data packages while knowing that their network cannot cope with serving if they are used in full and they're just hoping that people wont use their monthly entitlement.

    Also my data package has a specified limit of 500Mb. Since its not 'unlimited' I get charged if I go over so I should be able to use it however I want to - and that includes 3G video calling if I'm so compelled.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Depends on the implementation

      The Skype client on my N900 is great for voice or video. Voice and IM work over WLAN or 3G/GPRS, Ive only tried video over WLAN but it might work over GPRS too. (One nice feature is the client also ties into the GPS allowing you the option to publish your location at city, district or street level).

      Strangely the phone doesn't seam to do standard 3G video calls (yet), my previous two phones did but after the 'oh yes it works test' I never used it. I now do do Skype video calls from my sofa quite often.

      The point being all these high end phones have pretty much the same power so its just going to be down to software fixes to get something that's actually usable.

  7. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Skype’s API Terms of Use and End User License Agreement!

    I haven't actually read that but I have a feeling it basically means 'Lets pretend a few ports of the internet are really Skypes so we can make money out of you and every other poor sod that's already paid for those ports but has to use us cos we are basically demanding tolls for that bit of the information highway and we've clogged up a lot of peoples computers already and you have to go through us'

    Worked for Dick Turpin.

  8. FARfetched

    With blanket wifi, who needs cellular?

    My cellphone died a couple weeks ago, and I'm finding I don't miss it that much. With plenty of open wifi between the office and home — hotels, supermarkets, coffee shops, bookstores, you name it — I can use Skype to call around. $27 for 3 months, compared to $100/mo for a smartphone… put this in the "no-brainer" file.

    OK, I can't get calls in my car, but you're not supposed to do that anyway, right?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      not so sure

      I spent a week in San Francisco recently, and rather than pay ludicrous sums for data roaming, relied on free wi-fi for my connectivity. I found a fair amount, but hardly 'blanket' quantities. And using VoIP on most of it was a non-starter.

  9. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Erm isn't voice data?

    > Skype's P2P network using a normal voice channel rather than data,

    >relieving pressure on data services.

    Wouldn't the cell phone company rather carry highly compressed Skype(tm) codec(tM) data(tm) rather than encode everything up themselves into GSM then unpack into POTS then recode it at the other end ?

    I know cell companies make us pay as if data, sms and voice were entirely unrelated but they must realise that on their networks it's the same thing!

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Something smells fishy here ...

    "Fring was using Skype software in a way it wasn’t designed to be used – and in a way blaablaa"

    First they deny that they have blocked Fring and they say that they did it, in other words.

    Lying bastards.

    Even if they had a valid reason to block Fring and Fring seems to disagree about that. Something smells fishy here and Skype hasn't bothered to explain.

  11. Antony Riley

    Obligatory N900 Post

    The rest of the phone/tablet/whatever might not be to your taste, but it does run Skype smoothly over your data connection.

  12. Mark 65

    Fat-cat Telcos

    "This approach led to much criticism from telcos, who argued that Skype and its users were in effect benefiting from their networks without paying for them."

    If they pay for so much as a local call or data access then they are indeed "paying for them". What they are not paying for are the highly inflated international call costs etc. Best the telcos look to enhance their business model from the age-old entrenched "aim to rip the user's face off" model.

  13. Stone Fox

    excuse me pardon

    "criticism from telcos, who argued that Skype and its users were in effect benefiting from their networks without paying for them"


    Kindly don't tell me what I can or can't do with it especially given the tiny amount that a voice call to my sister uses. Yes I'm sure they'd love to charge me for the call as well but they can f**k off!

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