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Russian Telco MTS Bans Skype, Other VoIP Services 94

Posted by timothy
from the but-that-complicates-my-wedding-plans dept.
An anonymous reader writes "MTS, one of the three largest mobile carriers in Russia, have been buying up smaller cable TV and Internet providers across the country, and besides the GSM/3G cellphone service they now also offer cable TV and home broadband Internet access. And their unified TOS [PDF] (Russian; mirror) for home broadband now says: "3.4.4. The customer may not use the Services for the purpose of transferring voice over the Internet; Skype and other similar software is forbidden." (screenshot). Really, why would you need to phone over the Internet, comrade, when you have a perfectly good cellphone [from MTS, presumably]?" Can anyone out there provide a good translation?
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Russian Telco MTS Bans Skype, Other VoIP Services

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  • Yes.

    Russia is still as fucked as it ever was. When the people who live their yearn for the good old days of queuing for potatoes and strict censorship you know nothing ever changed.

    • When the people who live their yearn for the good old days of queuing for potatoes and strict censorship you know nothing ever changed.

      Okay, and now a translation from that into English?

      • by Svippy (876087)

        When the people who live their yearn for the good old days of queuing for potatoes and strict censorship you know nothing ever changed.

        Okay, and now a translation from that into English?

        Aye, commie, ya wanna live like we doin' where we liv', ya better get rid of tha' commie attitude of yours.

    • by Clsid (564627)

      You obviously have never been to Russia, before or after. People remembering the old days are fond of the fact of being in a country that was a superpower, where scientific achievements of all kinds were within reach, where schools were top notch and housing even if it was kind of crappy, was a better deal than the current prices for housing around the Moscow area. But that aside, I still think Russia has a bright future, their economy is still growing, they still have a good manufacturing base plus lots of

      • by zeraien (704094)
        Yes, the housing was truly top notch, I fondly recall visiting friends living in their lavish 5 room apartments.

        But wait, what's this? 5 doorbells next to the door?

        What is that you say? Five families have to share this 1 bedroom, 1 living room, 1 study and 2 kids rooms, as well as this one bathroom and kitchen?

        Only 15 people in this one family 5 room apartment, you say? They should be happy they weren't living on the street!

        Or perhaps we can remember fondly stories told by our grandparents, who
        • Nostalgia is a bitch. She only tells you the good stories of the good ol' days.

          Like, remember how much fun your college years were? And your childhood? Oh how much you want to relive those days! How simple life was back then! Until you remember the tests, the lack of freedom, the petty little things that made life unbearable compared to now?

          Personally, I think people yearning for the good ol' days just miss the times when it didn't matter jack whether you worked or not, you had your job and as long as you w

        • You are completely right, except for one wee little problem: in the "new" Russia, people still do all of these things except now it is not the Stalinist mismanagement but utter poverty that forces them to do so with no prospect for any improvement in foreseeable future with the added bonus of having lost free medical care and free education.

          Most new apartments and houses are waaaaay out of reach of most families so only the top 5% or so lives it up like royalty, which if kept up for a long enough time wil

          • by zeraien (704094)
            Someone forgot to send out the memo about the "perks" of Freedom from Stalinist oppression; like poverty, unemployment, more corruption, crime, and more bullshit. Also, an interesting thought: back in the communist time, people knew who the enemy was - the man in the distinctly KGB-looking coat, and sometimes in a less subtle uniform.

            The thing is; change for the better takes time, and Russians are not known for their patience or forward thinking. At least that's the opinion of this Russian... heh
        • by pakar (813627)

          on the fifth floor, without an elevator

          Having a elevator is not a right... Lived on the 5'th floor in a building from 1908 that where protected so no elevator was allowed to be installed...
          Sure it was a bit rough the first 2-3 weeks but running up and down the stairs a few times per day made wonders... Free training, why complain.....

      • My time in Moscow, I broke away, used the Metro, visited people and institutions in the snow. They had a hard time, they'd fixed things, and it was 'normal'. They grudgingly respected their country, enjoyed life, worked hard and did intensive office-politics, and were forever trying to build businesses. How bad is that?
    • Actually, when they yearn for the days of queuing for potatoes and strict censorship, you notice that something can be worse than that.

      Russia will bring us the future. And this time even for real.

  • All your base are belong to us.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08, 2011 @04:59AM (#37646616)

    First, the translation is correct enough not to care.

    Second, this language got into ToS before MTS buying the cable company and it is not known to be enforced - before or after the MTS deal. Reason for this thing was to reduce the size of bribes toregulating agencies, as the previous ISP had no license for voice-over-landlines and prohibiting Skype gave them a bragaining point in the bribe negotiations. Enforcing it wa, of course, superfluous.

    MTS has promised to fix the ToS. We are waiting. Well, I am not - I use and old, medium-size, nice and predictable ISP. what do I care about MTS copper internet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gdy (708914)
      That's correct and here is a comment [habrahabr.ru] (in Russian) by an MTS representative
  • Not new... (Score:4, Informative)

    by bemymonkey (1244086) on Saturday October 08, 2011 @05:01AM (#37646624)

    Lots of German providers do this too (making VoIP a ToS violation), especially on plans which are for smartphones only... the big 5 gigabyte plans which allow tethering usually don't have this restriction... maybe the same is true here.

    • Re:Not new... (Score:4, Informative)

      by zlogic (892404) on Saturday October 08, 2011 @05:06AM (#37646638)

      This rule is from MTS' fixed network ToS, and not the mobile phone disivion.

      • Re:Not new... (Score:5, Informative)

        by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Saturday October 08, 2011 @06:29AM (#37646860) Journal
        Which is exactly why I am glad that, in the Netherlands at least, legislators are now set to implement Net Neutrality. This after a mobile carrier announced that they were going to block VoIP and WhatsApp because these eat too much into their traditional revenue model. It's a valid argument, but it would have been only a matter of time before such restrictions would have been placed on fixed networks as well, especially since almost all of the major ISPs here are owned by the traditional (mobile) phone operators, and most offer their own (premium) VoIP and TVoIP. They'd love to be able to block competing phone and streaming video providers, and levy a tax on "bandwidth hogs" (read: popular services) like YouTube, Facebook and Google. Some providers already had plans for this, but thankfully that particular shotgun was pointed firmly at their own feet when they touched the trigger.
    • Lots of German providers do this too (making VoIP a ToS violation), especially on plans which are for smartphones only... the big 5 gigabyte plans which allow tethering usually don't have this restriction... maybe the same is true here.

      It's being done all over Europe AFAIK. VoIP is both blocked and considered a ToS violation and forbidden on "regular" plans, as well as grounds for account suspension and damages if you're caught trying to circumvent the prevention measures. But they do allow it on their unli

      • by Anonymous Coward

        What bandwidth? VoIP apps usually use voice codecs with bitrates in 8-32 kbit/s range, GSM codecs are about 16kbit, so it's not much of a difference.

      • Re:Not new... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by bemymonkey (1244086) on Saturday October 08, 2011 @10:36AM (#37647724)

        VoIP codecs are typically ~10kbit/s, which is a trickle on a 7.2MBit lines... I highly doubt it's the bandwidth that bothers them, especially when you're allowed to stream audio and video as much as you want within your bandwidth allowance ;)

      • I suspect it's mostly about money. By banning VOIP the providers can change different rates for voice than for generic data.

  • Tovarishch, that is why is called interNYET,
  • Translation: (Score:5, Informative)

    by Alex Belits (437) * on Saturday October 08, 2011 @05:05AM (#37646636) Homepage

    3.4. Network Subscriber is prohibited to:
    3.4.1. Use Network Subscriber Equipment for purposes other than personal, family, home, orfor other purposes related to running a business.
    3.4.2. Retransmit, perform (copy), or use radio and TV programs in any other manner (except for personal, noncommercial use by Subscriber).
    3.4.3. Perform other actions listed in Part 6 "Subscriber's Rights and Obligations".
    3.4.4. Use Services to transmit voice over the data networks, including transmission over the Internet, i.e. Subscriber is prohibited from using software such as Skype and similar, to transmit voice over the Internet.

    • Wouldn't 3.4.4 as written also prohibit downloading or streaming of songs and video containing voice? It appears it could be interpreted that way.

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        As i read it, you are free to receive voice but not to transmit it yourself.

        • Use Services to transmit voice over the data networks
          Transmit does not necessarily mean you're the one sending it. While that's one possible interpretation, simply causing the data to be sent over the network is a valid interpretation of the above. In that interpretation, clicking on a link that requests voice data be sent to you would still be a violation.

  • free market or back to the censorship? I don't know, but it doesn't sound good...
    • by Haedrian (1676506)

      Its called free market. Because the government isn't doing anything to 'interfere' in it, and the buisiness and the customers are taking care of it themselves.

      So the customer gets screwed over with very little chance to do anything.

      • I am not sure it's free market, especially in Russia.
        • by Cyberax (705495)

          It is. Most places have a choice of several broadband providers.

          My apartment has a choice of 3 operators providing connectivity by Ethernet lines, 1 cable company, 3 DSL operators and a couple of WiMax operators. If MTS starts to enforce this, then it'll take me about a couple of days to switch to another operator.

          Oh, and there are no multi-year contracts, so no early termination fees or anything.

      • Just like in America then. And you wonder why the Republicans want to do away with more regulations - so their buddies in big business can screw over the people even more.

    • "Free market" is today only an euphemism for censorship. Not by the government, but by companies.

      Personally, I'd consider it the worse kind of censorship. I can't even vote those idiots out of office for doing it.

  • This is refreshed evidence of the ability of the internet to influence politics and history, of course. Discussions of net neutrality aren't often rooted in socio-political terms; actions like these demonstrate the need for neutrality. If there's a very concrete, very specific definition of what the internet is and what the internet isn't, the rest of the internet can take actions against entities and networks that "aren't the internet".

    The political dimension of the net neutrality comes into play here. Whe

    • Re:Net Neutrality (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... t ['etz' in gap]> on Saturday October 08, 2011 @06:06AM (#37646800) Homepage Journal

      The problem is thinking somehow that there are some "special" classes of data and other "not so special" classes of data. Net neutrality isn't even really a political game, but rather an arbitrary designation that has no basis in reality.

      Seriously think about it if you have any knowledge of network protocols: Does it really matter what you call the data as long as eventually the end users simply see the interpretation of that data? You can put a telephone conversation wrapped up into an MPEG movie requested via HTTP and the end users wouldn't know the difference as long as the software can pull that conversation out of the data stream. Turn it into a PNG image (or series of images) if you have to. TCP/IP ports numbers.... and those mean anything at all? Instead the firewalls pervert everything to squeeze through port 80 so the whole concept is meaningless in the first place.

      This goes doubly so for China, as many of those who are skillful in the art of getting around the "Great Firewall of China" have used this concept of data encapsulation for a great many years. You can even do acts of Steganography to "hide in plain sight" data if you really care to in a multitude of manners.

      All that attempts to put in classes of service actually accomplish is to raise the bar for an ever escalating arms race where all those who are attempting to control the internet will accomplish is to choke network bandwidth with needless protocols and extra layers of useless routing data that accomplishes nothing in the end. Data simply is data, and if you are being honest as a carrier as well as wanting to actually care about your customers, you would accept net neutrality as a basic business plan because economics would keep you from mucking up your service with all that extra useless data to encapsulate what customers really want to accomplish. Bandwidth goes down along with "quality of service".... not just for those who are playing games to get around the restrictions but also for the rest of us who have to use that same network for "proper" activities recognized by the network carriers. We all lose when this game is played, including the carriers themselves.

      If only this argument could be explained to members of parliaments/congresses/legislatures as well as corporate boards of directors... but those folks like to be able to manipulate people for their own ends. Trying to explain liberty to folks like that is like trying to convince a brick wall that it can fly like a bird.

      • by rossjudson (97786)

        I guess my general point is that unless the US (and similar countries) take the high road on neutrality issues, they're going to find it difficult to make political progress vis-a-vis the internet, because of the slippery slopes involved.

        Yeah, you can get around the GFC, but doing so splits into two cases: Wanting to get information that you shouldn't be able to get, and wanting to get information that is only useful when transferred in a timely and usable manner. Gmail performance in China just sucks. OK,

  • by Uzull (16705) on Saturday October 08, 2011 @05:19AM (#37646668) Homepage

    A way to increase income from international phone calls.
    Can be circumvented by letting the internet phone provider calling you on a land line (free) or a cellular (with a small surcharge).

  • here is the text (Score:4, Informative)

    by rim_namor (2454342) on Saturday October 08, 2011 @05:23AM (#37646682)

    To be honest with you, whoever wrote this, can't write proper Russian, because there is double meaning there, which I will try to untangle correctly

    3.4 Clients are forbidden:
    3.4.1 To use client equipment in manner that is different from personal use, family use, home use. Also clients are forbidden from using the equipment for purposes such as business.

    (this sentence, combined with the top 'Clients are forbidden', made it unclear whether business use is forbidden or not, but I believe it says business use is forbidden.)

    3.4.2 To redistribute (forward), (replay) copy, and use in any other manner TV and radio programs (except in cases of non-commercial use by the client).

    3.4.3 To take any other action, which are defined in the section VI "the rights and obligations" (section of regulations).

    (whoever wrote this, needs to have brain untangled, it's all mushed up).

    3.4.4 To use these services for the purposes of transmitting voice information via the information network, including the Internet network, i.e., the client is forbidden from using such applications, as Skype and other similar applications for voice transmission over the Internet.

    ---

    In short: you can only use this service for your personal/family purposes, not for business. You can't share TV and radio programs (there is nothing about parts of it, this was NOT written by a professional lawyer), and you can't use Skype.

    AFAIC this is clearly monopoly control over the networks and trust me on this: this monopoly is completely government supported. There were many laws passed in Russia in the recent years to make sure there is as little available competition as possible.

    Hey, what are governments for, right?

    • Vote that horse-riding ex-KGB fucker out of power then.

      If the fucker refuses to be voted out, then have a Russian Spring. The Arabs can't have it all to themselves.

    • AFAIC this is clearly monopoly control over the networks and trust me on this: this monopoly is completely government supported. There were many laws passed in Russia in the recent years to make sure there is as little available competition as possible.

      Another expert in Russia? There's no monopoly on that market, with the "big three" mobile phone companies (each of those providing internet access as well): Beeline, Megafon, MTS. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Mobile_phone_companies_of_Russia [wikipedia.org] In such circumstances, you could only speak of a cartel agreement, but that's not clear given the article mentions only one mobile ISP.

  • Russians love Skype like everyone else does for obvious financial reasons. MTS was basically the Microsoft of RU GSM until Beeline came along and they're the major two. You might be thinking that someone could just change operators but although they're all enemies they work in unison on certain things.

    Case in point "Roaming" . In USA I presume you can use your phone in Texas or New York and pay the same rates. Not so In RU, a change was made a few years ago with some sort of internal roaming. All GSM operat

    • by Teancum (67324)

      In USA I presume you can use your phone in Texas or New York and pay the same rates. Not so In RU, a change was made a few years ago with some sort of internal roaming.

      I know this isn't true for all carriers, but I do know this isn't universal in America. One of the worst places for "roaming" that I've encountered is Las Vegas, where a cell phone charge that normally is about $3 or perhaps even a buck almost anywhere else can cost nearly a hundred dollars or more. A good friend of mine was shocked when after a trip to a trade convention in Las Vegas discovered nearly $1500 in cell phone charges for the couple of days that he spend in that city.

      For myself, I used a pre-p

      • by maxume (22995)

        Do modern Verizon nationwide service contracts even have the concept of off network roaming in them?

  • this is a mistake (Score:3, Informative)

    by sol1tude (1493183) on Saturday October 08, 2011 @05:40AM (#37646722)
    there is no ban from MTS. there was a mistake: this is an old version of Agreement from subsidiary. nobody looks in Agreement. proof: http://habrahabr.ru/blogs/telecom/129943/ [habrahabr.ru]
  • The same clause is present in swedish 3G TOS from for example Teliasonera. I'm forbidden to use any voip service on my android phone, although I don't know if they actively try to detect such use.

  • At least there will be more tunnel users: http://www.mizu-voip.com/Products/VoIPTunnel.aspx [mizu-voip.com] :)
  • that RUSSIA has problems with its free market..

  • It translates to either: Give me money or I f*** you comrade or Give me money I'm done f****** you comrade. I believe it is the later.

  • for net neutrality!

  • For whoever can read Russian: http://habrahabr.ru/blogs/telecom/129943/ [habrahabr.ru] For those who can't - "Marina Akulich, blog-secretary of MTS, this is an official company comment - at this time company does not prohibit using any VoIP services such as Skype and the likes. Obviously, installation of such software is not blocked an all corresponding services are granted at full scale. The issue came out of Comstar-Direct (probably an acquisition done by MTS) company who did not have a license to provide voice commun

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