China is going after Internet phone services like Skype in a move to protect the country’s state-owned telephone companies.

A notice from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on its website this month has caused alarm among consumers who turn to the Internet calls because they’re far cheaper.

The ministry says it is working to fight “illegal Internet phone services” but does not specify any actions.

China says only major telecom companies have the right to offer services that link computers and telephones. Companies like Skype operate in a gray area, and experts say the notice is a warning to them not to grow too big.

The Beijing News on Thursday estimated that China has 15 million Internet phone users.

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