Last Friday, Skype posted this notice to their status pages indicating that they were contacting users who had bought 0207 London geographic numbers for their SkypeIn accounts. SkypeIn is a service that allows Skype users to have a normal UK phone number that people can dial to reach them on Skype. There’s been nothing more around this topic until an email from a friend today gave it all away…

Skype is telling those users that they are going to withdraw the 0207 numbers they’ve paid for. As an apology they’re giving users 12 months free SkypeIn for another London number – only this time on the new 0203 range. They offer no explanation for why they’re doing this – so what’s going on?

A little digging shows that the numbers sold by Skype are actually allocated by Ofcom to a company called Gamma Telecom – a fairly well-known UK telecommunications provider. So Skype is renting the numbers from Gamma and re-selling them onto users. That’s not so bad right? I mean, it’s like setting up a company that leases cars and you then rent those cars out to people. Except you don’t usually put the make, model and registration number of your car on a business card as a means of contacting you.

Now, personally I have to question the sense behind buying a SkypeIn number for business use, but that’s a separate conversation. The simple fact of the matter is that Skype knows people are using this for business purposes – they’re actively marketing it to businesses – and yet they’ve let this situation develop. What’s the actual root cause is unknown – it may be that Skype and Gamma have had some kind of commercial disagreement, as happens from time to time, and Gamma are withdrawing Skype’s services. Either way, this is a hard blow for Skype to take, especially following their recent two-day outage.

Happily, I can say that the way we’re designing Freewire means that this won’t happen to us. Although we don’t offer a public number at the moment, we’re going about it the right way – we’re a proper telephone service provider, and we’ll get our numbers from Ofcom. We have interconnect agreements to allow people to contact us from all over the place. We’ve built a carrier-grade platform that can provide a reliable service. And we will, at some point in the near future, be able to ‘port’ numbers in and out – so not only will our users be able to bring their numbers with them, but users who are leaving will be able to take their numbers to their new provider.

Isn’t this how all telephone providers should operate?

5 Responses to “Skype’s number’s up?”

  1. […] worth the price of losing your telephone number with practically no notice? Skype appears to have simply rented the numbers that they then sold for SkypeIn but rental agreements can and do […]

  2. Dave says:

    Shocking behaviour from Skype, and as a member of SkypeIn since day 1, it’s awful the way they are treating customers just because of some tiff or to save a little money. Once again the customers are being left in the lurch by big business deals. They are not even going to compensate you for months lost on your SkypeIn account.

  3. CC says:

    Only problem with Skype’s statement is that it isn’t true.

    The voucher codes they’ve given for the supposed credit do not work, the range of 020 8xxx numbers they have is terrible, and the 020 3xxx numbers promised are not available.

    They’ve phrased it like they are being “forced” to give them up when they are not, they’re just switching supplier and don’t want to go to the trouble of porting the numbers over.

    Skype’s communication and handling of has been less than professional

  4. Sen says:

    I renewed the 0207 number that I had for just over a year just 11 days ago and had more stationery printed at a cost of over £200. I complained over 24 hours ago, but have received no reply. (1) If according to their blog response, they knew of this potential situation some time ago, why didn’t they at least warn you when renewing recently (2) Having renewed 11 days ago, the offer of 12 months Skype in represents just 11 days subscription – 14 Euro cents (3) Be warned, these numbers don’t appear to work as fax forwards to a VoIP based fax to email service.

  5. I have been following this althrough. I too am a Business affected. I have simply taken this another way. i have been in contact with users all day and we have all sent teh following email to The Sun newspaper. Hey, dont knock it, they love it! Please everybody send the following to them and we will get something done here.

    mail to: make the subject the following

    “Thousands of small uk businesses dealt cruel blow at xmas by golbal giant” then simply tell tehm in teh email your story. If we get enough they will run it!

    Regards Chester