Microsoft’s Skype service is being investigated by French regulator Arcep on the grounds of failing to register as a wireless carrier. According to the New York Times, Arcep has repeatedly requested Skype declare itself a communications operator, but the company has thus far failed to do so.
Even though Skype’s service is only available through VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), Arcep considers any company that can be used to route emergency calls or for wiretapping reasons as a telecommunications operator. Because Skype users can communicate on either a phone, tablet or computer, Arcep claims “[Skype] constitutes furnishing a telephone service to the public.”
The only thing Skype is required to do is declare itself a telecom operator—failing to do so is illegal. Microsoft has responded by arguing Skype is not, in fact, a “provider of electronic communications services under French law,” and therefore shouldn’t be investigated. The Redmond company said it will work with Arcep to squash the issue, but it’s unclear how either party will move forward.
“When you act as a French operator you have to register as an operator,” Jean-Francois Hernandez said.
France Télécom CEO Stéphane Richard welcomes the regulation, and feels Skype and other services enjoy an unfair advantage since telecom companies transfer Skype’s data without revenue sharing.