Telkom’s new FreeMe packages include free calls and messaging on WhatsApp, BBM, and Viber, with a fair-use limit of 2GB per month.
While impressive, some have asked: Why not Skype?
“Telkom will consider zero-rating Skype calling, as well as other over-the-top services as additional value on our FreeMe products in the future,” said Telkom spokesperson Jacqui O’Sullivan.
O’Sullivan said future value adds, like zero-rated messaging services, will be informed by Telkom’s analysis of the uptake and trend of its free instant messaging offers.
“In the case of Skype, we will still need to investigate the technical feasibility of zero-rating calls over this medium.”
Isolating Skype is hard
Experienced technicians in the telecommunications industry have told MyBroadband that dealing with Skype in this regard is a technical challenge.
Skype makes it almost impossible to throttle its traffic on a network, but it also means you can’t give it preferential treatment.
Skype supports peer-to-peer connections between users, and also doesn’t use a specific port. It can hop from port to port and server to server if it detects its connection is being throttled.
This means that network providers can’t detect Skype traffic by looking at server IP addresses or port numbers.
Traffic over Skype is also encrypted, which means that packet inspection can’t be used either.
Since it is difficult to identify Skype traffic, operators can’t easily bill traffic from the messaging service differently.
This means they can’t charge more for Skype data, but it also can’t be easily zero-rated.