Monday, July 27, 2009

Russia: Domestic industry lobbies strongly against foreign VoIP services such as Skype and ICQ

[FT] Russia’s most powerful big-business lobby has declared Skype, the telecoms group that offers free calls over the internet, a threat to national security and is working with the government to regulate it.

Leading Russian telecommunications executives told Russia’s Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs this week that rapid growth in free voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services such as Skype threatened domestic companies’ profits and could undermine security because VoIP services are more difficult for security services to intercept.

Singling out Skype and Icq, the most popular VoIP programmes, the business lobby said their growth “without any control by the state was unavoidably leading to fears about security problems”.

“The majority of brands operating in Russia, such as Skype and Icq, are of foreign origin and therefore we need to ensure the defence of national producers in this sector,” the business lobby said after the meeting this week.

The telecoms executives, including a representative of Altimo, Alfa Group’s telecoms arm and Megafon, the number three mobile provider, proposed creating VoIP services within their own companies, and then making them available to the Russian public.

Russian telecoms aim to limit Skype surge

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