Verso Goes Global With Skype-Blocking Software - InformationWeek

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Verso Goes Global With Skype-Blocking Software

U.S.-based Verso Technologies is taking its show on the road, targeting African telecom markets, Chinese network carriers, and other overseas customers with an interest in the company's technology for censoring VoIP, IM, P2P and other types of Internet traffic.

With one carrier trial underway for its Skype-blocking product, Verso Technologies is targeting African telecom markets for its NetSpective M-Class content management solution. The Atlanta-based communications applications company announced that it will demonstrate its products at next week's GSM Africa Conference in Cape Town, South Africa.

Skype is a hugely popular peer-to-peer (P2P) VoIP service provider.

Christine Puleo, Verso spokesperson, noted that the firm will partner with Norway's Taide Networks, which has a strong presence in the rapidly expanding African telecom market. She observed that African telecommunications markets are beginning to take off and represent a good market for Verso.

At the same time, she said interest in the company's Skype-filtering solution is growing in the wake of Verso's announcement that it will conduct a trial of NetSpective for a tier-one carrier in China. Verso said it has "an executed trial agreement" with the Chinese company after Skype executives questioned whether the contract was for real. Verso declined to release the name of the Chinese company, adding that the customer had requested anonymity.

Puleo said Verso is marketing NetSpective to both enterprise and carrier customers. The company has about 150 enterprise customers for NetSpective in the U.S.

NetSpective is a standalone product in a box that had its genesis as an Internet filtering device. The device was later extended to block P2P traffic before it was developed to filter Skype traffic.

"It scans every piece of traffic coming in and out of the network and filters harmful or undesirable content to help protect the network from intrusions," Puleo said in an e-mail. "NetSpective also ensures compliance with federal filtering mandates and communications tracking requirements."

As for enterprise customers who already have NetSpective, Puleo said they can use the product to filter Skype if they choose. She said: "They can turn that particular filter on or off as they see fit."

Skype, which recently was acquired by eBay for $2.6 billion with potential for reaching $4.1 billion if certain milestones are reached, has enjoyed a phenomenal growth. It has 66 million users who talk to other Skype users for free. Paid services like SkypeOut, which enable Skype callers to call non-Skype users internationally for about 2.3 cents a minute have also proven to be popular.

SkypeOut is not approved for use in China and there have been media reports that all Skype is forbidden in that country. Carriers in small countries like the UAE and Oman have taken steps to block Skype and other VoIP services. Costa Rica has threatened to block VoIP. Generally the indigenous telephone companies in those countries do not want to lose the revenue they currently charge for long distance calls.

Verso said NetSpective not only filters Skype traffic but also P2P, IM, and chat traffic originating from other sources. "Signature-based blocking technology analyzes the unique protocol signatures of all Internet traffic moving in and out of (the) network, guarding against circumvention by the rogue applications that render many competitive products ineffective," according to Verso's product information.

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