The anticipated "web affiliate program" which Skype announced today didn't generate the stir here in Stockholm. Instead, a passionate plea to regulatory authorities was made by Niklas Zennström, asking them to regulate the incumbent carriers, not the newcomers.
The spur for this clearly heart-felt call was the decision by the Norwegian regulator to insist that any Voice over IP providers in that country should provide standard emergency calls. Skype responded by disabling its links to the PSTN in Norway. That means, no SkypeOut and no SkypeIn services, pending resolution of the dispute.
The decision echoes the decision in America to force VoIP providers to offer standard "911 emergency" - 999 or 912 fire police and ambulance calling - within 120 days.
Zennström said: "Let’s make sure we know what we want from these emergency services. Don’t force legacy emergency calling onto innovative networks."
For example, he said, the emergency service should not force you to make a voice call. "When there is a burglar in my house, I don’t want to call the police; I want to email or IM them. The burglar may hear my voice!"
He concluded: "Let’s work with emergency centres and IETF and others, to come up with emergency services that match what people have. The solution is to provide an open interface to emergency centrals, to receive text, voice and video over IP; and also to build up national IP geographic mapping databases, managed by national authorities."