The service SkypeOut, offered by Skype, is a public electronic communication service. This follows from a ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) of 5 June 2019, in a case between Skype Communications Sarl and the Belgian Institute for Postal services and Telecommunications (BIPT). Skype has subsequently registered with the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM).
SkypeOut is a paid service that is offered by Skype. With this service, it is possible to call with a computer to landlines and to mobile numbers. No plan is needed: users must purchase a specific amount of credit in advance, after which their balances act like prepaid plans.
Providers of public electronic communication services have certain rights and obligations as laid down in the Dutch Telecommunications Act. As the telecom regulator in the Netherlands, ACM’s duties include registering these providers and checking whether they observe the rules. Henk Don, Member of the Board of ACM, comments: ‘This ruling shows that these rules also apply to services such as SkypeOut. We call on businesses to contact us if they offer similar services.’
Telecom providers must register with ACM if they offer services that enable calling fixed and mobile phone numbers via Voice over IP. In addition, the ECJ finds it also important that it is a paid service and that an intervention by telecom providers is required to establish the connection with fixed and mobile numbers.
In the case about Skype’s registration, ACM had previously imposed an order subject to period penalty payments, which had been suspended pending the ECJ’s ruling. Since Skype has now registered, the violation has ended, and Skype does not need to pay the penalty payment.