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VoIP Legal Status Worldwide? 180

Posted by samzenpus
from the free-for-all dept.
Cigarra writes "There was much public debate going on during the last several months here in Paraguay, regarding the 'liberation of Internet,' that is, the lifting of the restriction on ISPs to connect directly to international carriers. Up until this week, they were forced to hire wholesale service from the State run telco, Copaco. During the last month, when the new regulation was almost ready, the real reason supporting the monopoly made it to the headlines: Copaco would fight for the monopoly, fearing VoIP based telephony. Finally, the regulator Conatel resolved today to end the monopoly, but a ruling on VoIP legal status was postponed for 'further study.' I guess this kind of 'problem' arose almost everywhere else in the world, so I ask the international slashdotters crowd: what is VoIP's legal status in your country / state / region? How well did incumbent telcos adapt to it, and overall, just how disruptive was this technology to established operators?"
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VoIP Legal Status Worldwide?

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    And now they're getting out of the VOIP business themselves.

  • In Canada (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @12:43AM (#27162313) Journal
    Here, in Canada, it is totally free; as there is no single federal telecom monopoly and those are mostly private companies, the issue of monopoly is moot.

    Hopefully, this situation will help to drive the Bell Telephone Company of Canada into the ground, which could be sooner than we think as it was not bought by the Ontario Teacher's Fund.

    • Re:In Canada (Score:5, Informative)

      by MrNaz (730548) * on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:00AM (#27162415) Homepage

      South Africa had banned VoIP technology until recently. There's lots of information in this 2001 article:

      http://www.itweb.co.za/sections/telecoms/2001/0103271307.asp?A=VPN&S=VPN&T=Section&O=SBR [itweb.co.za]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mantrid (250133)

      In theory it is free; in practice (Ontario anyways), Bell is the gate keeper. And they don't really keep their gates fixed up very well, actually the gates are more like doggie doors and you can only fit half a person through per month (then they charge you extra). There are also a few cable companies - they have garage doors, but they might only let one person in at a time. (Fortunately we still have some resellers of DSL to help out, they'll give you a few gates and generally distract the gatekeeper wh

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Idiomatick (976696)
      Unfortunate that 'free' VOIP you use is going through your Bell internet lines or a ghetto cableco. I use teksavvy dsl and my voip quality and torrent speeds are crappy/throttled. Why? Because Bell is fucking with my connection once it gets to their backbone even though I'm not buying anything from them at all. I don't see a way we can put the company down if they have control over my internet when I'm not even a customer. Maybe they'll start punitive throttling, hitting people not paying them just because
  • Legal vs Allowed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Renraku (518261) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @12:46AM (#27162327) Homepage

    VoIP is legal here in the United States.

    But I don't know how much longer it'll be allowed to live by the ISPs.

    We're kind of on a roller coaster ride debate as to whether or not ISPs should be able to decide what data goes over their lines. They want to be able to charge more for certain types of data (and you can bet your ass that data that competes with another wing of their business will be pretty damn expensive).

    When Bush was in office, I wouldn't have even blinked in surprise if I were told suddenly the ISPs decided that all YouTube traffic is now set to 14.4k speeds unless you pay more for it, but now that Obama's in office, its actually a debate rather than a eventuality.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MrNaz (730548) *

      now that Obama's in office, its actually a debate rather than a eventuality

      If you think the big lobby groups are any less powerful just because of a change in party or person in the president's chair then you're deluding yourself.

      RIAA will continue to run around like a bull in a china shop, patent trolls will continue to destroy innovation by patent stockpiling and dragnetting, the armed forces will continue to rape and pillage those who are unable to defend themselves and our privacy and freedoms both onli

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jonaskoelker (922170)

        If you think the big lobby groups are any less powerful just because of a change in party or person in the president's chair then you're deluding yourself.

        The real enemies of society are the interests represented by the powerful lobby groups. Not some guy sitting in an oval office.

        I seem to recall Obama being in favor of reducing the power and influence of lobbyists on political decisions.

        I'm not overly naive, but it might just be possible (maybe!) that you'll (meaning we'll) see some real change.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Not to sound cynical, but the president simply doesn't have the power to do that. The staff that make up the administration serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States of America. The President of the United States of America serves at the pleasure of the powerful lobby groups.

          You think you have a democracy. You don't. You have a show that the big interests put on so you think you have a democracy.

          Lets see, in 2 or 3 years, if the RIAA or MPAA have been censured in any meaningful way. Lets s

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Clovis42 (1229086)

            You think you have a democracy.

            No, apparenlty you do. We think we have a representative republic.

            It's no different in the UK or Australia. We're all being frog boiled, and we're too stupid and have too short memories to see it.

            Ya, but at least we are allowed access to guns. We can at least do some pew-pewing before we finally croak.

            I agree that lobbyists (ie, big corporations) have way too much power, but it isn't all that bad. Take RIAA, for example. For all the power they have, they keep losing. They

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Eternauta3k (680157)

              Ya, but at least we are allowed access to guns. We can at least do some pew-pewing before we finally croak

              The second ammendment is the most cunning deceit ever made (probably not it's original intention). It keeps people thinking "hey, if things get too bad we can still revolt". Thus, the illusion of having a right takes precedence over actual rights that citizens in other countries have (healthcare or whatever).

              • s/it's/its
                In case it wasn't clear, I'm talking about "The US is better than <country>. Sure, they have decent healthcare and political parties, but we've got guns"
        • by philipgar (595691)
          The president of the united states also said he wasn't going to appoint any lobbyists on his cabinet. We saw how long that lasted (until he started announcing who was on his cabinet). People have a false sense of belief that just because a politician has been spouting on about hope and change for years that he will actually do it. Believing that ignores years of political precedents. Obama will likely change things, but for the most part, his administration has largely been a continuation of Bush's poli
        • No, you recall Obama saying that there would be no lobbyists in his administration. How's that working out? Oh that's right, it's not. He has at least as many lobbyists as any previous President.
      • by palegray.net (1195047) <philip.paradis@NoSpAm.palegray.net> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @02:54AM (#27163069) Homepage Journal

        the armed forces will continue to rape and pillage those who are unable to defend themselves

        I was with you right up to that point. Speaking as a person who has served in the Navy, with lots of friends in the Army and Marine Corps, I can say with a high degree of confidence that you are an idiot. How's that armchair of yours? Comfy?

        • Re:Legal vs Allowed (Score:4, Interesting)

          by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:46AM (#27164305) Homepage Journal

          I was with you right up to that point. Speaking as a person who has served in the Navy, with lots of friends in the Army and Marine Corps, I can say with a high degree of confidence that you are an idiot. How's that armchair of yours? Comfy?

          I've had to sit and listen to too many soldiers tell me stories about rape to believe your anecdote. They invariably are a story of grief and remorse about how they didn't stop someone else from doing it. When you add to that that the published stats for rape of female military inductees in the Navy is over 25% - while rape statistics are nearly always under-reported, and rape allegations are almost never false although other kinds of abuse are potentially over-reported.

          The simple truth is that occupying militaries pretty much always commit rape on a broad scale, and ours is no exception, nor has it ever been. In addition, the use of prostitutes who were forced into the business in response to the devastation of the local economy due to war can only be seen as a kind of rape, and that is very much SOP for all soldiers anywhere, making war in any time and any place.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Congratulations for abusing moderation in order to try to bury my opinion which is contrary to yours. A troll is when you say something you don't believe to try to elicit a particular response. This is not what is happening here.

          • Re:Legal vs Allowed (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Hatta (162192) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @11:11AM (#27167269) Journal

            rape allegations are almost never false

            How exactly do you determine this? Most rape cases are complete "he said, she said" cases. Given that in 25% [ncjrs.org] of the rape cases where DNA evidence is available the main suspect is exonerated, I'd say your "almost never" is completely wrong. And that's not even counting cases where 1) no DNA evidence is available or 2) consensual sex is followed by a cry of rape.

        • by bartwol (117819) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @07:47AM (#27164663)

          I never served...a fact of which I am not proud.

          I fully agree with your point, brief and unexplained though it may be.

          The parent's sweeping [mis]characterization of military personnel reflects a kind of bigotry that is common and, in many circles, acceptable here in the U.S. (and elsewhere). And yet, his ugly slur is no more correct than one he might make about African Americans or any other broadly defined population. Alas, such broad sweeping bigotry lives in the hearts of most people, and is only mitigated by their learned sensitivity ("forgiveness") to particular sub-classes.

          Anyway, thanks for saying it the way I felt about it.

          • by NReitzel (77941)

            Um, I wonder at your statistics to support the term "most people" ... Some of us try, very hard, to avoid broad, sweeping generalizations, for example, "Most people are bigots."

            • by bartwol (117819)

              That assertion is, of course, my informal opinion based on my own observations. I arrived at at after being repeatedly surprised by people who most certainly would never disparage someone on the basis of the commonly identified classes: race, color, ethnicity, etc. Even there, I find attitudes toward religions (theistic or atheistic) to challenge the flexibility of many otherwise broad-minded people. If you then throw in sentiments about The French, A Man's Man, Liberals, People Who Keep Dirty Bathrooms, Re

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by oodaloop (1229816)
          I also served, 7+ years active duty Marine Corps, and I continue to hold the highest admiration of those who serve, in any of the services.

          That being said, it is a sad fact that the US has a long history of using the military and the CIA to bully uncooperative countries, overthrow their leaders, establish US friendly dictatorships, and support their campaigns. As individuals, US service members are of the highest caliber and I wouldn't want to work with anyone else. As a group, we get associated with the
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TehDuffman (987864)

        the armed forces will continue to rape and pillage those who are unable to defend themselves

        I would have modded you up except for this point. The Armed Forces of the US are like any group, you put a bunch (hundred of thousands) of 18 - 23 year olds in a area with extreme stress and extreme power mistakes happen but... rape and pillage I would say you have no idea what you are talking about and may want to learn/read instead of writing completely ignorant statements.

        Also the military establishment before OIF was not pro-invasion, they did the best with the horrible leadership from the civilian

    • by abushga (864910) *

      Legal but very costly for Sprint EVDO users. The surcharge for VoIP on Sprint's EVDO network is something like $1 US per minute.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      It's against AT&T wireless' terms of service to use VoIP over a cellular data connection. Of course, just encrypt and connect to a proxy or just setup a VPN and viola, none of AT&T's business.
    • by drDugan (219551)

      http://www.billshrink.com/blog/mobile-cell-phone-plan-cost-markup/ [billshrink.com]

      recent post "Dissecting The Mobile Phone Plan Markup"

      ISP VOIP has to be better than this

  • The past tense of "arise" is "arose". Like rice.

    Needless to say, the opportunity to make a fortune off of VoIP users is being lost. If you are a mobile operator, you just charge per packet. If you are a telco, you just charge a data traffic fee. If you are a cable operator, you just charge people more to get the channels that they really want by splitting them up into "packages" that contain one good channel and 50 crap channels.

    Seriously, who the fuck is watching the Lifetime channel?

  • by jonwil (467024) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @12:58AM (#27162395)

    And we have regulators who would go after any telco who tried to block it.
    In fact, many major ISPs are now offering VoIP as part of your Internet connection

    If the government tried to ban VoIP in this country, they wouldn't survive the next election.

    Maybe thats the problem for people in countries in Latin America and Africa and elsewhere where telephone and Internet service is controlled by state-run/state-backed monopolies. Maybe the people in these countries need to kick the government out (although that assumes that there is a government running the country and not a military general and an army with orders to shoot anyone who has such unclean thoughts as "lets kick the government out" or "lets fight the state-run telco")

    • by timmarhy (659436) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:19AM (#27162531)
      our monopoly telco which was previously government owned, telstra, would LOVE to block VOIP. they aren't in the VOIP business yet, they are waiting for everyone to invest heavily in it then they will drop conventional landline calls to the same level, decimating the competition.
      • Same old Telstra! I'm with Naked DSL = no rental and free VOIP calls .. good enough for me!
        • by Techman83 (949264)
          After I confirm Telstra has credited my account because of their incompetent service, I will be taking my money and going Naked! Can't wait!
      • by amorsen (7485)

        "Investing heavily in VoIP" means buying a couple of servers, a connection to the Internet, and finding a good Linux admin... At least if you're targeting private customers.

        Getting blocked by the ISP's is a worry of course.

    • by rdnetto (955205) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:22AM (#27163207)

      In fact, many major ISPs are now offering VoIP as part of your Internet connection.

      Quite a few actually give you an incentive to adopt it. E.g. My ISP, iiNet, literally doubled my already generous quota if I bundled VOIP with my connection. That was actually the only reason we got VOIP at first - it was only later that we realised how much cheaper it was.

      Also, take a look at this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VOIP#Legal_Issues [wikipedia.org].

    • by AHuxley (892839) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @04:27AM (#27163563) Homepage Journal
      Voip is fine in Australia, just select your ISP with great care and read the fine print re excess data costs.
      Telstra (big bad Australian "Bell") enjoys offering low capped plans with over use charged at A$150/gb, counting uploads and downloads.
      As the joke goes:
      "New computer - $1200
      Desk for the computer - $250
      Bigpond 100Mps 200mb Cable Plan - $39.95
      Using your 200mb quota + 2GB extra at $150 a gig doing VoIP - Priceless"

      Telstra controls RIMs (Remote Integrated Multiplexer ~ digital loop carrier), toys with exchange rack space and does all it can to contain other ISP's.

      Another fun aspect of Voip was this:
      http://apcmag.com/bigpond_blocking_voip_on_new_modem.htm [apcmag.com]
  • Australia (Score:2, Informative)

    by MishgoDog (909105)
    Completely legal here - in fact, a lot of ISPs use it as a sales tool - they provide cheaper internet if you bundle it with their VoIP service to replace your home phone.

    VoIPs becoming fairly widespread these days - many big companies especially are using it, and a growing proportion of home users.
    • by Locklin (1074657)

      It's the new Email. ISPs get you to use their VOIP service, then when you decide to switch ISPs you have to change your phone number.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Dog-Cow (21281)

        Where do you live? In the US, we have number portability.

        • by jc42 (318812)

          In the US, we have number portability.

          Only in a few limited cases. Last year, my wife and I finally decided to terminate our land-line phone. It was only used by telemarketers, and everyone else used our cell phones, so why keep paying for it? We both also use Skype; her company uses it routinely for the growing portion of employees that are working at home part of the time. At the time, I also had a SIP phone as part of a job I was working on.

          Anyway, we did a bunch of checking, and found that we couldn

  • Australia (Score:3, Interesting)

    by noz (253073) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:11AM (#27162483)

    People have VoIP in Australia with a publically accessible telephone number (inbound and outbound).

    But what you're saying reminds me of mobile phone companies offering internet on 3G mobile phone networks but blocking IM clients fearing their exorbident SMS revenues [physorg.com] will disappear.

    • by jonwil (467024)

      I don't know of mobile phone companies here in .au that block IM.
      Vodafone don't, I was using my phone connected to my PC via USB (and using my phone data connection) while I waited for my DSL to be hooked up and I was able to access any IM I liked.

      Now US carriers blocking IM to preserve SMS revenues I can understand...

  • by jrumney (197329) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:12AM (#27162491) Homepage

    In most of the Western world, Governments decided in the 1980's and 1990's that competition was good for the consumer, and government telecommunications monopolies no longer exist. In those countries, VoIP is just seen as a natural evolution of healthy competition, and though individual operators might try to make life difficult for independent VoIP operators, and lobby for regulations to be imposed based on E911 (ie the ability of emergency services to find), there is no government support for banning healthy competition.

    In markets where there is still a government backed monopoly, there might be more inclination to protect that monopoly, but ultimately it is not good for the consumer or the overall economy to protect a dying technology and business model.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Velska1 (1435341)

      In my native Finland, I was surprised to see how easy it was to break the monopoly that the government monopoly had on long-distance calls both national and international. But then we always had small, local, privately owned phone companies (or co-ops) handle local telephone business (in densely populated areas, that is). We never had a Ma Bell.

      Then when the Internet arose, all comers were welcomed to the field, which gave us one of the best connectivity rates in the world (relative to demographic factors l

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      In markets where there is still a government backed monopoly

      It's always either monopoly or oligopoly. The established players lobby for new barriers to make it harder to be a carrier. The right-of-way is generally granted to a single company. The right to use public spectrum is controlled by a government body, and either auctioned or assigned. In other words, the government very much decides which communications carriers can exist. The government always backs the "current state of affairs" unless they are financially (or, I guess, otherwise) induced to change things

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tonyray (215820)

      Unfortunately, the US has government backed telecommunication monopolies. E911 is a good example of how it works. In most places in the US, E911 is contracted by the counties with the local telephone monopoly. When the FCC decided that VoIP providers had to provide E911 and gave them only 120 days to invent a method for doing that and putting it into place, the telephone monopolies refused to allow the VoIP providers to connect to E911 because they weren't regulated wireline telephone companies. It took

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I see a lot of these new internet based communication technologies, that are pretty much 're-inventions' of existing industries, having a hard time setting their foot on the market.

    Mainly because the industry they are replacing is too big to struggle with. And the big guys control access to the most important requirement, that is the Internet.

    As long as cable companies serve internet, IPTV or P2P TV systems will have a hard time competing. The cable company will simply throttle your IPTV service, or they wi

  • I will tell you when I am using VoIP and IM on my mobile handset. For now, it is only usable if I use my wired internet connection at home.

    The telcos of the future are all wireless carriers, right?

    Android, curiously, seems to lack support for it as well -- so much for Free(dom).

  • It's completely legal with some cable companies offering cable + VoIP and several VoIP-only telecoms here. But most of the national VoIP providers are expensive when compared to Skype (about 2-3x more expensive). One of the reasons for that is taxes: telephony (and telecom in general) is taxed at 33%. Their only advantage is reliability for incoming calls when compared to SkypeIn.

    In the early days of Skype, some ADSL providers tried to block Skype traffic in some places, it's actually not illegal for them t

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:41AM (#27162671)

    Residential User:
    Mexico - Illegal if you don't buy from one of the Telmex concessionaires.
    Nicaragua - Illegal. You go to jail for it.
    Honduras - Illegal. Jail.
    Costa Rica - Illegal. Fine.
    Dominican Republic - Illegal. Jail.
    Panama - Legal. Do whatever you want.
    Colombia - Illegal. They disconnect your Internet line if they catch it.
    Venezuela - Legal. Chaves Monopoly.
    Brazil - Legal. Plenty of providers.
    Argentina - Legal. Plenty of providers.
    Chile - Legal. Plenty of providers.

    Termination (to leak, connect a VoIP gateway to phone lines or ISDN lines and provide termination to guys like Arbinet):

    Mexico: Illegal. Jail.
    Nicaragua: Illegal. Fine and Jail.
    Costa Rica: Illegal. Fine and Jail.
    Honduras: Illegal. Fine and Jail.
    Colombia: Illegal. Fine.
    Dominican Republic: Illegal. Fine and Jail.
    Venezuela: Illegal. Fine and Jail (and some worse stuff...)
    Brazil: Illegal. Fine and Jail (They just closed a huge leak there with 12 Cisco 5350s. Guys got fined in 2 million bucks)
    Argentina: Legal. You may get problems with your ISP.
    Rest: I don't know.

    • by acid06 (917409) *

      I'm not sure if by "termination" you really meant "providing termination services for third-parties without a license".
      But in Brazil it's perfectly legal to have a VoIP gateway which will route your company internal VoIP systems to the PSTN.

      Providing this service for third-parties would require a telecom license, though.

    • by johannesg (664142) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @04:41AM (#27163641)

      I'm utterly amazed that in some countries you can apparently go to jail for using a certain type of telephone...

      • by thesp (307649)
        Really? Surely you know that many forms of two-way radiotelephone misuse [acma.gov.au] can also lead to heavy punishment in many jurisdictions.
      • by catxk (1086945)

        I guess I know what you mean, but still. Communication is if not the number one at leat on the top three of threats against a government. Thus, one might expect the degree of democracy to be relative to the degree of regulated communication: Totalitarian regimes are likely to have no free communication, fully democratic regimes are likely to have totally free communication (I see no reason why a social-democratic regime couldn't have a phone line monopoly while still allowing free communication, it might ev

      • You must be new here (on Earth)

  • by yahyamf (751776) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @02:13AM (#27162849)
    In Dubai in the UAE as well as in most Gulf countries, VoIP is completely illegal, and the state run telcos use DPI [wikipedia.org] technology to block it. This adds about 200ms of latency to *all* packets which the telcos think is an acceptable tradeoff to preserve their monopoly revenue.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sysstemlord (1262162)
      The software used for calling from internet to telephone are completely illegal in UAE and some other gulf countries, and they block downloading or connecting to their voip servers, however, it's possible to use voip between two computers, and it's also possible to call someone's phone in emirate from abroad using voip software. In other words, it's allowed as long as it doesn't affect the local mobile carrier.
  • by i_b_don (1049110) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @02:32AM (#27162941)

    So for those countries that outlaw VoIP, what is the extent of their laws? If I play a game on Steam and it has voice chat as part of the game, will I be thrown in jail? If you play xbox live with the headset on, are you busted? If you use an IM which has voice capability is it illegal to turn that on?

    Seriously, how can they make this work and still keep a functioning internet? This just seems like craziness to me.

    d

  • VoIP will kill conventional telephones? That's just stupid. Cell phones will kill conventional telephones way before VoIP. I bet you that there are a lot more people with cell phones than there are with personal computers and internet connections.

    I know people who were giving up their land lines years ago in the states and switching exclusively to their cells... I've yet to meet someone who has done the same with VoIP. (with out them owning a cell that is. I myself use VoIP for international calls and

    • Conventional telephones are not going to die anyway because the obvious deliverer of fiber to the doorstep is the conventional telco. They might not seem to be doing so well right now but if they can invest enough in fiber to the home then they have their future cut out for them.
      • by i_b_don (1049110)

        Actually if Conventional telephone companies switch to delivering internet (fiber to the home), they they will care a lot less about losing their telephone business. They would rather have a single fiber line going to the house rather than a fiber and a twisted pair both. (more money for them to install and upkeep two lines).

        The problem is that telephones have become so cheap in terms of data trafficing costs that i'm sure they're a major cash cow by now so it's hard for them to let things go. Of course

        • But that is my whole point. If they can leverage their existing infrastructure to the point of delivering fiber to the home (FIOS), then they do indeed have a future. Otherwise, they probably do not. So... they should be pushing fiber with every dollar they have.
        • Actually if Conventional telephone companies switch to delivering internet (fiber to the home), they they will care a lot less about losing their telephone business. They would rather have a single fiber line going to the house rather than a fiber and a twisted pair both. (more money for them to install and upkeep two lines).

          It costs them zero to upkeep phone lines. All costs were from the initial investment of laying the cables to properties. That's the problem. Just because they put down wires as a state monopoly decades ago, the phone companies have control over practically every residential customer. And laying down new cables everywhere is not a realistic option.

          The telco's eventually would rather switch everybody to fiber/internet anyway so they'll just sell you your "landline" as a box they install off your property that converts their internet into VoIP anyway.

          While I don't fully comprehend what you mean, this sounds like what most providers do anyway. At their telephone stations they convert their digital fiber-based co

    • by Tony Hoyle (11698) *

      Plus, most internet tends to go through DSL or Cable. In this country and I suspect in most others you can't get either of those without also having a landline (kinda obvious for DSL, but for Cable it's built into the contract).

      I know of nobody who uses VOIP for their main line. I do know several who have only mobiles (and also use mobile internet, which is getting very popular despite low data caps).

    • I use exclusively DSL communication. It' delivered on a conventional telephone wire, but it has no option of using an analog phone.
      My provider rents the two kilometers of wire to my home from the former state phone company. I have no idea how much they pay though.

  • by ivi (126837) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @02:59AM (#27163099)

    So, in Australia, we have a few serious competitors (eg, MyNetFone),
    eg, offering low-cost ATA's (1-off price to buy it of under Au$ 20)
    and VoIP service plans (to anyone who knows about them) as low as
    Au$ 0 (ie, FREE) each month, ie, pay only for your calls ( Au$ 0.10
    for up to 2 hours in each call you make to a normal Australian land-
    line; Au$ 0.15 / min for calls to Aussie mobiles); 1 DID no. incl'd.

    Retailers offer higher-priced ATA's (even from same VoIP provider),
    or did... Most get ATA's directly from MNF at subsidized prices.

    An early "visible" if more costly provider - Engine (or similar) -
    wanted you to buy an ATA for Au$ 150 or Au$ 99, a while ago, but
    have realised the futility of such high prices.

    Engine also charged a monthly fee (now, about Au$ 10 / mon) plus
    somewhat more for calls.

    MyNetFone seems to have been the most creative & versatile, eg,
    offering:

    - software for Nokia cell phones that enable one to make/receive
        calls either paying (high prices) for cellular privider's data
        or - more recently & economically - use your choice of WiFi
        provider (incuding your own home / office WiFi access-point)
        as the (cheaper) source of data to support your VoIP calls

    - support for softphones (theirs & others)

    - cheap ATA's, some with routers WiFi and/or modems, ie, a reason-
        able range of ATA brands & models, ususally locked to MyNetFone

    - (for business clients) IP-PBX options (see their site for details)

    Their low-cost call rates applied (as above), but any cell-pro-
    vider's data or other broadband data costs were - as always -
    yours to bear, along with them.

    --- Skype on a mobile phone or Sony PSP or computer:

    Mobile carrier (Hutcheonson?) "3" has offered Skype offers a
    GSM-based cellphone with facilitated, built-in Skype features;
    you can see it at Skype.com or Three.com.au.

    With a SkypePhone in hand (a user who within range of "3"'s
    broadband network can talk to any computer or Sony PSP or Skype-
    phone based Skype-user... for 4,000 minutes / mon and/or sent
    up to 10,000 text messages / month (in Skype text chat mode),
    for an incredibly low monthly fee, even if you add-in a fee
    for the SkypePhone handset. Of course, it's Skype- (not GSM-)
    voice quality. But messages sent via Skype are NOT limited to
    160 characters, as SMS chunks are.

    Sony's PSP 3002 (AU-version) includes both WiFi & Skype (voice
    only; neither SMS (since it's NOT a GSM cellphone) nor Skype
    chat-mode text messages can be sent from a PSP).

    If you bought a month or (cheaper, per mon) a year Skype "sub-
    scription," you get 1 or 3 DID no.'s based in your choice of
    any of 30+ countries, as well as 10,000 minutes of talk-time.

    So, using such a subscription, you can ring any normal landline
    number - in any of the countries on the list (of 32+ lands), etc.

    Of course Skype-to-Skype calls & chat messages remain free. :-)

    ---

    In short, enough options, easy for the end-user to setup & main-
    tain (ie, if s/he's a bit of a geek).

  • Caribbean (Score:3, Informative)

    by masonc (125950) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:00AM (#27163107) Homepage

    In the C&W controlled monopoly islands of the english speaking Caribbean, VOIP was always a gray area. Anyone wanting to offer VOIP services required a telco license and C&W would not sell them an internet connection, but they did not block VOIP use by users. The Governments did not have any real stance on the issue as they did not understand it. Eventually, C&W accepted the inevitable and offered their own service, known as NetSpeak, but only to private users and only tied to a hardware device.
    There is a large move to VOIP by companies and now I am seeing quasi-governmental pan-caribbean agencies implementing IP PBX installations using Open Source PBX equipment. The last bastion of TDM is the hotels and I think a shift to VOIP is inevitable there also.
    The incumbent Telco will likely move to entertainment and content as long distance revenue dwindles and they are stuck with the losses of maintaining low return infrastructure. They are already slimming down operations, laying off staff and becoming a sales driven company rather than an engineering company.
    VOIP will remain legal and radically change the Caribbean, telcos will become content providers and TDM will fade into the past.

  • I managed to omit the cost for GSM + Skype service on a SkypePhone

    At intro of the SkypePhone (from Australian "3"), one could choose:

    - 24 month Au$ 29 Cap" plan (then, with a min. spend of Au$ 20 / mon)

    - buy a Skypephone & use it on a Pre-Paid basis: Min. Au$ 15 / mon

    The "$29 Cap" has since changed to have a $29 min. spend (but includes
    more GSM service, each month).

  • If my US ISP knew I had some second hand IP-phones, a second hand computer for a TrixBox [trixbox.org] FOSS PBX, and a pay-as-you-go IAX/SIP trunk ($5 a month for local phone number, plus 2Â/min), you can bet they would TRY to shut me off since they also offer (crappy) VoIP service. But all I should have to do is say, "fine, I will take my business elsewhere" and they will roll over like a puppy if they care about surviving, anti-competitive-behavior arguments aside.
    • Get over yourself. As subversive and cyberpunk as you think you're being, your ISP doesn't give a rat's ass.
      • Seriously. Your fifty dollar a month account is worth nothing to a huge corporation, and you can make all the threats you like and usually not get anywhere. If you ever do, it's only because they're humoring you, not because they actually care about the ramifications of your cancellation threats, which most people never actually bother carrying out anyway. If a company has already determined -- whether or not their determination is correct -- that people running asterisk or trixbox servers is costing the
  • In the United States, VOIP is legal, and any decision that would change that is only vaguely hypothetical.

    The basic idea here is to support "Net Neutrality", which prevents monopolies from discriminating between types of network traffic.

    Anything else is just noise. The facts are that in most of the West, VOIP is perfectly legal and allowed. But if you want to help support that state of affairs, then mount a campaign to support Net Neutrality.
  • Here in France it is legal, except for wifi provider. Cellphone operators managed to get anti-concurrency laws about that. That's pretty stupid when one thinks about it.
    • by m0i (192134)

      Here in France it is legal, except for wifi provider. Cellphone operators managed to get anti-concurrency laws about that. That's pretty stupid when one thinks about it.

      Hrm, although you can't provide a bundled voip service with wifi, you can extend triple-play voip service over wifi (freephonie, sfr, orange, they all do it) so it's really not an issue.

      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        Yes but you can't have voip over wifi on a cellphone for instance. That would contradict laws on mobile telephony. The VOIP over wifi is authorized as long as you stay at home.
    • by vuo (156163)
      "Concurrence" means "meeting in agreement" in English, not "competetion". False friend.
  • by Britz (170620)

    In Germany the mobile phone carriers charge a lot for normal phone services, but are starting to have cheap data plans. So their TOS don't allow for VOIP. There are 4 carriers. All of them do it.

  • Malaysia (Score:3, Informative)

    by raju1kabir (251972) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @04:57AM (#27163725) Homepage

    Consumers are allowed to buy VoIP equipment and use it as they please. Broadband quality isn't all that great, and latency to the USA (where most providers are homed) is 250+ms, so takeup has not been huge. Skype is popular though, and USB Skype accessories are ubiquitous in computer malls and shops.

    Equipment that connects physically to the telephone network requires approval from SIRIM, a regulatory agency. I have seen SIRIM-approved stickers on Digium cards, so in principle they are amenable to that sort of thing. I know of one shop that sells SPA-3000 series devices but I haven't checked whether those are officially approved or just grey-market imports.

    A licence is required in order to interconnect with the PSTN and provide services to the public. However, many of the inbound international phone calls I receive here in Malaysia arrive with dubious local caller-ID, so I suspect there are a lot of termination providers doing things on the cheap, which in these parts usually means skipping the licence stuff.

    In general, the government's attitude has been open or at least tolerant, and the market is slowly picking up speed. All of the major ISPs offer or plan to offer consumer VoIP service, and a small but growing number of independent operators are starting to reach out to consumers. For large businesses it has been standard practice for years.

    One factor slowing the adoption of VoIP has probably been the already-low price for international calls via other means. Wholesale inbound termination is under US$0.01/minute for fixed lines, and around US$0.03/minute for mobiles. The retail cost of phone calls from Malaysia to fixed lines in US/Europe/Australia etc on my mobile is around US$0.04/minute (Digi @ RM0.13-0.18). In most countries you can't even call next door for that price; here I can call the other side of the planet.

  • From what I have seen, the telcos know they can not win against VOIP, so since all of them are offering some form of high speed, they are also moving to offer voice services over the Internet service they provide.

    This means that you can get VOIP from your ISP, the phone companies also offer Internet service, and VOIP over what they offer. The only problem is that ISPs may weight IP traffic for their own VOIP higher than other traffic, meaning companies like Vonage may have degraded service compared to wha

  • VOIP is actively encouraged by the authorities, however there is very little reason to use it as PSTN is so cheap, and more reliable.

    Most people use cellphones for voice calls, as they are cheaper / more convenient than land lines. One of the mobile networks provides facilities for you to use Skype over their network, but it doesn't work as well as a standard UMTS voice call.

    I think VOIP is popular in some countries because they have an arbitrage situation where data is cheaper than voice. There is no rea

  • Poland (Score:2, Interesting)

    by retsef (1390265)

    In Poland and EU currently there is no problem with VoIP. There are a lot of companies in EU that support Poland and some Polish companies specialized in Poland. Funny thing is that regular telecommunication companies (like Dialog Telecom -monthly subscription about 10Euro/20USD) sell also their products cheaper via internet wih VOIP (monthly subscription about 2,5Euro/5USD).

    In the past polish national telecomunication had monopoly for calls abroad, till 2004 i belive, but nobody respected it.

  • Lebanon (Score:2, Interesting)

    by welrifai (1497767)
    In Lebanon, VoIP is actually completely illegal as it circumvents what is in some cases, a state run monopoly, and in other cases, a multi-national firm that's been granted authority to be a monopoly by a ridiculous agreement Lebanon made with the IMF (typical privatization/guarantee of private profits in exchange for a high interest loan). I wouldn't be surprised if most of the developing world is in the same boat...
  • In The Bahamas (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zotz (3951) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @08:30AM (#27165011) Homepage Journal

    In The Bahamas...

    It is claimed that VOIP (say vonage) is illegal. Two local telco's supposedly provide legal voip. One is the government owned former telco monopoly.

    all the best,

    drew

  • "Arised"? Please. I know the editors here aren't famed for their intelligence, but they could at least try using actual words.
  • Here in the middle-east countries known as the GCC (Gulf cooperation council) the status is mostly forbidden if it's cross border with slight variation from country to country. Bahrain being the most open (also to prostitution, boozing and pork sandwidch but that's another story).

    In the UAE (Abu dhabi, Dubai) it's ok inside the country. For example a company wishing to connect it's branches on one IP network. Using skype/sip to call outside the country is forbidden as it requires a telco license, which i
  • The landline monopoly, Ittisalat Al Maghrib, which is also the only land-based broadband provider (DSL) does not look kindly on VOIP resellers. There are some underground VOIP resellers but they get shut down and arrested if they are caught.

    This doesn't stop the well-off people to have a secondary vonage (or similar) landline for calling abroad but it does discourage any competition on the local level.

  • Probably been said above, but completely legal in Australia and actually, VoIP has a very high market penetration here compared to the US from what I can tell.

    I, and most of my friends, have no traditional PSTN voice service at all. We physically have the landline there, but there's no dialtone. It's just for DSL (so called 'Naked DSL').

    There's half a dozen big Australian VoIP services out there which offer very cheap call rates ... simply sign up to one of those, whack the relevant SIP settings in your rou

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