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Deutsche Telekom Restricts Skype On iPhone

The stance of T-Mobile's parent company, which has the exclusive right to market the iPhone in Germany, differs from other iPhone service providers in the U.S. and U.K.

Use of Skype on the iPhone in Germany is "streng verboten," according to Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile.

The carrier is not only blocking the VoIP connection, but will cancel the contracts of any subscribers who attempt to install workarounds to use Skype, according to media reports this week from Germany.

The stance of Deutsche Telekom, which has the exclusive right to market the iPhone in Germany, differs from other iPhone service providers that have welcomed Skype, including AT&T in the United States and O2 in Britain.

The Deutsche Telekom blocking action drew a quick response from Skype's general counsel, Robert Miller.

"I find it quite telling that Deutsche Telekom would be so bold as to announce this arbitrary blocking of Skype," Miller said on his blog. "They pretend that their action has to do with technical concerns; this is baseless. Skype works perfectly well on iPhone, as hundreds of thousands of people globally can already readily attest." Miller noted that mobile phone service providers in Germany outlaw the use of any VoIP applications on mobile handsets.

The issue isn't likely to affect Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile USA, because it doesn't have rights to market the iPhone. However, users of T-Mobile USA handsets can use Skype and other VoIP services if their devices have Wi-Fi access.

According to media reports from Germany, a T-Mobile Deutschland spokesman pointed out that the company has been blocking VoIP applications for two years. "It is clearly stated in our customer contracts that such services may not be used," the spokesman told the Local, a German Web site. "There are two reasons for this -- because the high level of traffic would hinder our network performance, and because if the Skype program didn't work properly, customers would make us responsible for it."

IPhone users have been ingenious at finding new ways to use their phones, and they could try some other VoIP programs using Wi-Fi to seek to avoid the wrath and the reach of Deutsche Telekom.

Skype for iPhone was released on the Apple App Store this week, and Skype's Miller said that just 24 hours after the official launch of the Skype service, the VoIP software had been downloaded more than 600,000 times.

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