Internet-based video and voice call giant Skype is planning to roll out an India-specific version of the company’s application which has been especially designed to work on the country’s low-speed 2G and 3G mobile phone networks, and on mobile phones with limited processor speeds, company spokesperson Filipp Seljano told The Indian Express on Thursday.
The new Skype application, Seljano said, was the outcome of research conducted by a Skype team which tested several voice and video-over-internet applications on Indian networks, and found competitors like Viber were providing better service.
“India’s 2G and 3G network, as well as the mix of phones in use, poses very specific challenges for us,” Seljano explained. “The new application will be much lighter than the one now available, and will require far less computation resources and memory.”
Microsoft-owned Skype hopes the application will lead to wider application on low-end Windows-powered Nokia’s Asha and Lumia models, popular in India.
India, Skype believes, is among its most important future markets. The company has several Indian-origin executives in key positions, notably corporate vice-president Gurdeep Singh Pall.
The firm’s plans to expand its market in India come amidst an intense debate on net neutrality, with mobile phone companies complaining that voice-over-internet services that ride on their networks are eating into their revenues.
“It is true applications like ours eat into operators’ revenues,” said Seljano. “However, it isn’t that this is a zero sum game. There were similar problems in the United States and Europe, which we addressed by finding ways for mobile service providers to enhance their revenues by selling data.”
“The fact is that telephony companies are charging tariffs for voice traffic that the technology just does not justify,” Seljano argued. “Their model has to change. However, this is an opportunity for them, nor a crisis.”
“In the future,” Seljano went on, “more and more of the processing part of computing is going to shift into the cloud. For example, we’re working on technologies that will allow very complex games to be played on very basic phones. This will mean a huge growth in the demand for data.” Microsoft’s new HoloLens technology, which Skype is working on integrating, will allow the seamless transformation of holograms-for example, allowing a colleague to see what I am looking at in real time”.
The company said it is also working with governments, including India’s, on mounting concerns over the use of hard-to track voice-over-internet traffic for organised crime and terrorism. Skype now has a special group in Luxembourg that liaises with governments to cooperate on investigations
However, Seljano added, Skype would not cooperate with governments seeking data to crush legitimate dissent and political opposition. “For example,” he said, “we’ve had situations in Egypt, Syria and Turkey where governments wanted communications firms to report information on anti-government protests. That is not something we will do.”