Chinese regulators ban Skype

Chinese mandarins have outlawed voice over IP outfits other than those provided by China Telecom and China Unicom.

According to the Shanghai Daily, the move effectively shuts down Skype behind the bamboo curtain.

There are a number of reasons that the Chinese would want to ban voice over IP outfits. The first is that it protects the duopoly of state-owned telecom carriers. China likes China Telecom and China Unicom because they do what they are told and are easy to regulate.

VoIP saves users a bomb with a regular call to Japan or South Korea costing about 60 cents a minute, compared with 10 US cents a minute or even free for Skype users.

While the Chinese press have managed to confirm that the move is to protect the state-owned carriers, there might be another good reason.

Skype calls are encrypted and are difficult for the authorities to trace and crack.

If a person wants to moan to his mates about a local corrupt communist official, a Skype call will protect him from being arrested by the corrupt communist official and being sent away for re-education.

However the move is not that popular. There are fears even in China that banning voice over IP will keep the country locked in the past.

Kan Kaili, a professor at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, said that VoIP was a popular technology worldwide and the move was ridiculous.

Skype insisted this morning that it had not been banned yet and it was business as usual.