Skype, the successful VOIP program which has earned international reputation is said to be blocked in China for economical reasons, at least in the southeast city of Shenzhen by China Telecom, the largest ISP (Internet Service Provider) in mainland China.
Skype has been in a joint adventure with its Chinese partner Tom Online. Their simplified Chinese version of Skype is called Tom-Skype. The major feature of Skype is the function named “Skype-Out”, which allowed its user to call other people’s telephone with good quality of voice.
According to an article on Sina Tech, VOIP program like Skype is illegal in China since the Ministry of Information Industry only permitted six state-owned enterprises, including China Telecom, to operate such program. Skype would be blocked in the major cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen and the first step is to block users’ access to its server. China Telecom hasn’t confirmed it officially.
Virushuo cited a story of a Shenzhen Skype user surnamed Wang, who reported that his internet access was down and some ports were blocked. He consulted with the personnel at China Telecom, who replied that he had been added to a black list because he used Skype-Out and required him to guarantee not to use it any more. They also warned that next time he would be fined for 3000 Yuan, about 370 US Dollars.
Fons Tuinstra noted the international edition of Skype is still in effect and accessible. Anyone who wants to have this edition can email him at tuinstranl#yahoo.com as it is very hard to get in China. Lawrence Lee also point to a page in Chinese where people can download Skype of English version.
ZhangYizhen questioned the legitimacy of blocking Skype. He pointed out that Tom-Skype did not provide VOIP calling service directly. Users must buy credits from Skype headquarter in Sweden in order to use the PC2Phone function. He also said that the blocking decision may be not done by China Telecom national headquarter but its Shenzhen branch.
China has entered WTO and claimed to be market-oriented economy. However there still existed various forms of monopoly in which state-owned enterprises have an indisputable advantage over their rivalry on resources and governmental policies. This kind of competition is out of fashion as a blogger has put it, “Skype has been blocked in China but it won’t disappear”