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Skype vs. Fring: Is Fring not telling the whole truth?

skypelogo-shadow.pngToday mobile startup Fring is in the news for their claim that Skype is blocking access for video calls to and from Skype users. Fring issued a news release and wrote a rather inflammatory blog post which has garnered them coverage on TechCrunch and many other sites. With typical David vs. Goliath fervor, much of the reporting so far seems to have favored the small startup Fring fighting for connectivity with big company Skype.

It seems the situation isn't so clear. Skype's legal chiefVP of Legal, Robert Miller, fired back with his own blog post which included these lines (to which I added emphasis):

An hour or so ago, Fring reported on their blog that we had blocked their access to Skype. I want to make one thing absolutely clear: this is untrue....

In this case, however, there is no truth to Fring’s claims that Skype has blocked it. Fring made the decision to remove Skype functionality on its own.

This, coming from Skype's legal headVP of Legal, would seem to be a rather definitive statement.[1]

Over on his VoIPWatch blog, Andy Abramson wrote on Saturday, related to Fring's suspension of Skype video due to capacity issues, this:

Plain and simply, Fring has a capacity issue. This is why Skype was smart to take their "wait and see" position on interoperability with FaceTime.

... Bridging requires skill, expertise and capacity management. And it has a price. So while the Frings of the world may think they can go out and simply cross connect and transcode, the real secret to satisfaction is in keeping it up.

It all does cause one to wonder:

  • Is the issue really that Fring does not have the capacity to truly support Skype video from iPhone 4s?
  • Is Fring seeking to use its apparent ongoing legal issues with Skype as the rationale to avoid adding capacity?
  • Or is this more of a marketing ploy to try to get more people to sign up directly as fring users?

What is the truth, Fring?

P.S. Please don't misunderstand me... I'm a huge advocate for the "open Internet" and would definitely like to see Skype open up their walled garden more - and applaud the moves they've made to date, while still wanting more. Normally I'd find myself siding with Fring on this... but at least from what Skype is saying, the situation seems much deeper...

[1] UPDATE: It was pointed out to me after I published this post that Robert Miller is still Skype's VP of Legal but no longer the "legal chief" as he has a new boss.

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