T-Mobile Germany, the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in Germany, has said it will block customers from using the new Skype application for iPhone, both on a network and contractual basis. “It is clearly stated in our customer contracts that such services may not be used,” T-Mobile spokesperson Alexander von Schmettow told German publication The Local. “There are two reasons for this – because the high level of traffic would hinder our network performance, and because if the Skype programme didn’t work properly, customers would make us responsible for it.” Skype for iPhone works only over Wi-Fi connections, meaning it would have no effect on T-Mobile cellular network performance, only at company-owned Wi-Fi hotspots. Skype General Counsel Robert Miller points out in a blog post that the application is the number one download on the App Store in Germany, but that customers in the country have no choice but to abide by the company’s rules, at least while on T-Mobile controlled networks, because all German mobile operators forbid the use of VoIP applications.
“[T]here is no technical justification for this arbitrary blocking of Skype, and it represents a barrier to online business put in place by a private company just because they can, because they control access to the Internet,” Miller writes. “Yet, no one can do anything about it: German or EU regulation does not forbid such blatantly unfair practices, and the new EU legislation for telecoms which the European Parliament and European governments are supposed to adopt later this month will not help either, it seems from the latest texts being considered in Brussels: it may even make things worse, by legitimizing restrictions put in place by operators to users’ Internet access, as long as they inform consumers.” Meanwhile, Schmettow said the company will not hesitate to enforce the policy, stating, “[T]hose who violate their contracts can expect to have them cancelled. It’s the same with any contract. If you rent a no-pets apartment and expect no one to notice your little dog, you can’t be surprised when your landlord comes knocking.”