It wasn't too many years ago when many of us in the blogosphere descended on Barcelona and found we loved a carrier called Yoigo. It offered pre-paid SIM's, cheap daily usage rates for data and worked well with services like Truphone and Mobivox to keep costs down. Over time the iPhone arrived, SIM's got smaller, and Yoigo remained my favorite European operator, as I was able to use Skype on the iPhone, or Android, as well as CounterPath's Bria without any hassle.
With Skype, on the iPhone, or even the iPad last year it wasn't so much the calls that I cared about. It was the instant messaging that was so useful. Much to my surprise, upon arriving in Spain this week I learned the hard way that not only was Skype being blocked for voice calls, which has been the case for a while, but that I can't even IM anyone. Ironically, What'sApp works, so the idea that IM can't but an over the top SMS app can work on iPhone's and Androids using a Yoigo SIM was a bit surprising.
It seems this is part of a grander scheme by Yoigo's owner, TeliaSonera to basically force added payments to use VoIP reports GigaOm's Stacey Higginbotham, on their contract customers, but not offer any opportunity for their pre-paid customers. What's more there is a growing trend like this around Europe. In France SFR also blocks Skype and VoIP traffic on pre-paid but I've yet to see that in the ultra-competitive UK mobile market. Here in Spain, what TeliaSonera is saying will happen in Sweden, is happening now.
An alternative to this horse-hockey is MasMovil, which openly supports VoIP and other apps running over their network. Given they are an MVNO, as is Yoigo, it's interesting to see how two different players work. Yoigo, which has some of it's own network in major cities around Spain, plays the No Skype game. Mas Movil, which buys capacity from Orange and Vodafone, says bring it on. Luckily, I have a MasMovil SIM in my pocketspot (a Huawei) MiFi, so even Yoigo can't stop me from staying connected and in touch.