Fring accuses Skype of "ambush" in video calling VoIP scrap

No sooner has Fring brought 3G video calling to the iPhone 4 than the service gets embroiled in a war of words with Skype

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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We like a good tech dust-up, and it seems a new scrap is brewing -- this time it's video-calling VoIP services Fring and Skype apparently squaring off as we gather round chanting, "Fight! Fight! Fight!"

No sooner has Fring 4 iPhone 4 brought 3G video calling to the latest Apple phone than the service loses Skype. Scrappy Fring reckons it has been "ambushed", while Skype told us it believes Fring is breaching the API terms of use and end-user licence agreement.

Fring's video calling trumps Apple's much-hyped FaceTime feature, as FaceTime only works over Wi-Fi and to other iPhone 4 owners. Fring makes calls over 3G or Wi-Fi to any phone capable of handling the video call -- note that both parties need to have Fring installed.

Video calling appears to have been too successful: Fring announced on Friday it had temporarily suspended Skype compatibility, to make room on its network for the upsurge in video calling. Today Fring announced Skype has refused to restore its services in what Fring calls an "anti-competitive ambush".

Them thar's fightin' words. We asked Skype for a retaliatory strike, and it told us Fring was "misusing the Skype software in ways which it was not designed for and which does not scale to meet consumer demand". Both sides have accused the other of disappointing customers.

We hope there's room for reconciliation, because Skype compatibility is one of our chief criteria when considering VoIP and IM clients. But things have been said that can't be unsaid. We'll keep you posted on the unfolding dust-up.