China Cracking Down on Internet Phone Services

China has announced that it will be cracking down on Internet Phone Services, a move that could affect thousands of businesses and individuals making use of web-based telephony services such as Skype.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, they are cracking down on illegal Voice over Internet Protocol phone services. The ministry also advertised a telephone hotline where citizens could report any such services.

The Beijing Morning Post quoted vice-ministe Xi Guohua as saying that only state-owned major Chinese telecommunications operators were licensed to provide Internet phone services in linking telephones and computers. It was also said that communications between computers are open to all services providers.

From this it is clear that services, such as Skype may be considered as illegal services providers in China, due to the fact that it offers computer to phone telephony services to users, and these services may soon be banned under the ministry’s new rules.

In 2009, UUCall, a Skype-like service, was shut down in China on suspicion of operating illegal web phone services. The service went online again in February 2010 after moving its domain name to Hong Kong.

It is unclear what sparked the move to ban all web-based telephony services by the Chinese government, but it would appear that they may be looking at saving their own state-owned Chinese telecom operators, who may suffer serious losses in terms of income with web-based telephony services, such as the already established Skype.

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