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VoIP Legal Status Worldwide?

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the free-for-all dept.

Government 180

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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180 comments

Well, Verizon pretty much sued everyone (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27162279)

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

In Canada (4, Interesting)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162313)

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 (5, Informative)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162415)

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:In Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27164113)

Ummm, bit of a clarification, VoIP is legal in South Africa on fixed line networks only. It is still illegal on mobile (gsm) networks.

Re:In Canada - what abour Net Neutrality? (0, Flamebait)

ivi (126837) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163191)

Aren't you forgetting about the Net Neutrality issues, that could (if not do)
disrupt VoIP for some Canadians?

CBC podcasts mention a coming / recent gov't consultation, in which ISP's are
demanding that Net Neutrality not burden them any more, in future.

haha (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27162315)

first anonymous coward!

Legal vs Allowed (4, Insightful)

Renraku (518261) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162327)

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:Legal vs Allowed (3, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162471)

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 online and in the real world will continue to be barraged from all sides.

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

Re:Legal vs Allowed (2, Funny)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162949)

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:Legal vs Allowed (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27163083)

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 see if the US foreign policy takes steps to undo some of the harm of the last 8 years. Lets see if the absurd excesses in power grabbing under the guise of fighting terrorism get rolled back.

My money is on Obama slowly becoming Just Another President, and after his brief pause to make people think he's different, just continuing on the same downward spiral. Lobby groups will want him to make people think that they've made a change, which is why they've allowed Obama to pause the downhill slide for a while, so that people's anger levels subside. Once they are lulled again, the slide can begin again for another decade or so, before the next pause.

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.

Re:Legal vs Allowed (2, Insightful)

Clovis42 (1229086) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164397)

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've given up on going after individuals now. You can see their grip slipping every day. If it somehow becomes impossible for me to access media via bittorrent one day I'll believe you, but I don't see this happening. For all their complacency, when enough people are affected by something you actually see some change. It is a slow process, but eventually the will of the voters is heard.

Re:Legal vs Allowed (1)

philipgar (595691) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163291)

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 policies. The only major exceptions I can think of are funding to abortion groups, and funding for stem cells. People will point to Guantanamo, but it was likely going to get closed down within a year or two as people came up with a good solution for how to deal with terrorists (in reality we'll likely return to pre-9/11 conditions where we simply hired other countries to tor^k^k^Kinterrogate them for us).

I see no reason to suspect that the Obama administration will act any differently than the Bush administration concerning net neutrality.

Phil

Re:Legal vs Allowed (3, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163069)

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 (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27163199)

Ah, the old meat head argument.

"I was in the armed forces. Therefore, your criticism of the armed forces is incorrect."

They don't recruit you for the armed forces because of your shining intelligence, your stunning ability to construct insightful arguments, or your comprehensive grasp of foreign policy and political history.

As a civilian, I can say with a high degree of confidence that you are a meat head with a brush cut and lead poisoning. Fight for my freedoms? Fuck you. I'd sooner die at the hands of that mythical horde of terrorists than have you fuckers running amok all over the world tearing up villages in Vietnam, supporting dictators in South America and stealing resources from the middle east while claiming to be searching for WMDs.

Fuck you and the bradley you drove in on.

Re:Legal vs Allowed (1)

packeteer (566398) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164433)

You think the individual soldier is supporting dictators? Of course not, they are simply completing their mission on the ground that in turn may end up helping a dictator but that was all setup way above their head and they have no control over some of the long term effects of their actions are. That's why we have a representative government. I guess you are the one propping up dictators after all since you are responsible for the leaders in our own government.

Re:Legal vs Allowed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27163257)

thank you.

John

Re:Legal vs Allowed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27163727)

Yeah.. yeah... someone in the Navy (ie. accused of the crime) is defending his friends... !!

Re:Legal vs Allowed (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164305)

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.

Re:Legal vs Allowed (3, Insightful)

TehDuffman (987864) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163085)

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 leadership at the DOD and above. Had OIF planning been in control of the the military there likely would have actually been an occupation plan and no need for a surge because a higher amount of troops would have already been on deck.

Re:Legal vs Allowed (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27162501)

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

I'd be much more concerned how much longer it will be allowed to live by the government. Right now just about every ISP offers a VOIP service of their own. There might be a danger that it'd cost more to use a third party VOIP than your ISPs bundled VOIP service, but it's highly unlikely that an ISP would ever kill VOIP since it'd kill their own service.

With the "government is here to protect you" crowd in power, we can expect the government to start cracking down on freedom in an effort to "protect" us from the dangers of the Internet. Will VOIP be harmed in that? I doubt it would be directly targeted, but it might be a casualty of the inevitable anti-P2P regulations that we'll see under the Democrats. (Don't forget, Obama was basically elected by the media. The popular vote nominated Hillary Clinton, but thanks to media interference, the DNC didn't even bother actually counting the votes, they just nominated Obama directly. There's pay-back due for that, just wait.)

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.

And when Bush was in office, I could afford to pay a bit more for it. With Change McHopey in office? Maybe he'll just raise taxes on those durned successful business people (a.k.a. employers) and let the government cover the cost of Internet access.

Re:Legal vs Allowed (2, Interesting)

mellon (7048) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162633)

When the only tool you have is demagoguery, every discussion looks like a nail. Or something like that...

Re:Legal vs Allowed (2, Insightful)

californication (1145791) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163035)

Wow, fresh flame bait. Ok, I'll bite.

The Democratic Primary is not won by popular vote, but by delegates. Not surprisingly, Clinton's popular vote estimate only includes Clinton voters from Michigan, not Obama voters. Clinton lost because she a false sense of security that spawned from nepotism and entitlement. Maybe if she hadn't assumed from the very beginning that the cat was in the bag, she could have won.

Where were your in 2008, when Bush was still in office and the economy really went down the shitter? How many people lost their jobs in 2008, something like 2 million? Yeah, we were just rolling in dough when Bush was in office, he did a great job with the economy.

Ironic that you seem perfectly ok "paying a bit more for it" as long as it's a Republican in office. You bitch about the government picking your pocket, but you'll bend right over for a private company.

Re:Legal vs Allowed (1)

abushga (864910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162669)

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:Legal vs Allowed (2, Insightful)

californication (1145791) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163057)

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.

Past tense of "arise" is "arose" (2, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162373)

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?

Re:Past tense of "arise" is "arose" (3, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162479)

LOTS of women. I know being here on slashdot you might have forgotten the concept that women exist.

Re:Past tense of "arise" is "arose" (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27162639)

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

Roce?

Re:Past tense of "arise" is "arose" (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27162871)

The past tense of rice is poo.

Re:Past tense of "arise" is "arose" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27163369)

you mean like "Arroz"?

Re:Past tense of "arise" is "arose" (1)

alexandre_ganso (1227152) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163617)

It depends. If you're speaking Spanish, you're fine, as the Z sounds like the English S. If you're in Portuguese, no, because the Z from rice in portuguese is read differently. It's more like "arrÃs" in Catalan.

In Australia its legal (4, Interesting)

jonwil (467024) | more than 5 years ago | (#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")

Re:In Australia its legal (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:In Australia its legal (1)

templar112 (1497533) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162577)

Same old Telstra! I'm with Naked DSL = no rental and free VOIP calls .. good enough for me!

Re:In Australia its legal (1)

Techman83 (949264) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163179)

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!

But then Telstra screws you with 30s billing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27162623)

In the mean time, they screw over anyone still with a normal landline by moving to 30 second billing instead of per second billing.

They claim it was to bring it in line with the 30 second billing used with mobiles.

Well, they could have just as easily moved from 30 second billing to per second billing with mobiles.

Oh wait, they did have per second billing with some mobile plans at one point but they already got rid of that.

They are just greedy. At least Sol is finally going. Maybe they will get someone who realises that you cant run Australian companies the same way as they do in the USA. That is, by just stomping over the top of everyone.

Re:In Australia its legal (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163681)

"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.

Re:In Australia its legal (3, Informative)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 5 years ago | (#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] .

Re:In Australia its legal (3, Informative)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163563)

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]

Re:In Australia its legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27163919)

Yep - AND there would be a Conroy-effegy Burning at each capital city - then there would be a massive protest.

Just like compulsory filtering (now hopefully dead) and the scaling-down of NBN.

Re:In Australia its legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27164213)

In Brazil (which is in Latin America) this is perfectly legal, one can even buy a SkypeIn number there.

Australia (2, Informative)

MishgoDog (909105) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162401)

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.

Illegal in India (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27162407)

Hardware VOIP phone device is definitely illegal is India. Software VOIP I am not sure.

Re:Illegal in India (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27162461)

Hardware VOIP phone device is definitely illegal is India. Software VOIP I am not sure.

Hardware VOIP phone device is definitely illegal is India. Software VOIP I am not sure.

But thousands of US-based Indians have VOIP phones at home in India. Vonage or whatever's available here in the US can/does work in India as well. Whether this is legal is a different matter.

Australia (2, Interesting)

noz (253073) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Australia (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162637)

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...

Re:Australia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27162735)

I'm in the US and I don't get IM clients blocked... I think if I went through the carriers they'd try to charge me extra for it somehow though. But I ignore the carrier as much as I can (for example, you can pay a lot less per month by buying an unlocked smart phone then asking for a SIM card with the non-smartphone rate -- same service, smaller fee.)

Re:Australia (1)

atraintocry (1183485) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164271)

I was hearing that Bell Canada was about to charge extra for Twitter (even people who had unlimited SMS). But I think they gave up after the twitter community got really vocal. You can fit a lot of swears into 140 characters.

Only in monopoly markets (4, Interesting)

jrumney (197329) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162491)

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:Only in monopoly markets (2, Interesting)

Velska1 (1435341) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162857)

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 like population density). VoIP took phone carriers by surprise in a way, but mobile phones (and the deregulation of that market) had already destroyed their major cash cow, so they were seemingly happy to have more of an excuse to sell broadband lines.

Of course, I am no industry insider, so there may be more than meets the eye there, but I have never heard a complaint about VoIP traffic. P2P sometimes, not VoIP. The local companies are in the mobile business, too, as an alliance (there has been some consolidation, too), and we have had the highest rate of mobile penetration here until recently.

Re:Only in monopoly markets (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164309)

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.

New ISPs = new technology (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27162565)

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 will roll their own, or just force you to use their existing TV technology.

Your phone line/DSL based ISP will make sure that your VOIP service is unreliable just to promote their 'cheap long distance plan' that comes with their 'high speed internet'.

In order to defeat these kinds of business models, we need independent ISPs. That is ISPs who only provide internet access and nothing else. These ISPs will have to make sure that their job is to improve their internet infrastructure to cater to the ever increasing bandwidth demand.

I personally want to see new companies providing wide area wireless internet access.
Say goodbye to the old, evil, traffic shaping, expensive, non-upgrading, money hungry, power hungry ISPs.

Does it pose the same non-cost.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27162583)

on the ISP's to run VOIP as much as it is a non-cost for the wireless carriers to run text messages? If that is the case, then I can see how it would be a great way to crush the telcos, but would that then be considered anti-competitive? So the only question then would be, how much of the money the ISP's charge us for doing nothing on there end, goes to the telcos as payment for dying off peacefully?

I Will Tell You When ... (1)

LuYu (519260) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162621)

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).

In Brazil (1)

acid06 (917409) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162661)

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 to do that. But this only lasted for a few months as, presumably, people started switching over to cable companies (which were more than happy to grab yet another revenue stream from the telcos).

I believe my experience might be more relevant to you as Brazil and Paraguay are neighbor countries, so the context should be somewhat similar.

VoIP in Latin America (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:VoIP in Latin America (2)

acid06 (917409) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163361)

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.

Re:VoIP in Latin America (4, Insightful)

johannesg (664142) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163641)

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

Re:VoIP in Latin America (1)

thesp (307649) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164487)

Really? Surely you know that many forms of two-way radiotelephone misuse [acma.gov.au] can also lead to heavy punishment in many jurisdictions.

Costa Rica / Argentina (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27164425)

I've traveled to Costa Rica and Argentina for multiple weeks and used VoIP in both those countries.

If it is illegal in Costa Rica, they certainly don't tell anyone. I stayed in private homes with DSL, not a holiday inn.

I know the state runs the telecom/DSL in Costa Rica, so while VoIP may be unknown to the average Tico, they certainly aren't blocking it. Pura Vida!

In India (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27162695)

VOIP international calls are legal but local calls are not as the state run companies and other private cos who have invested billions won't let so.

Also, routing of internationals calls as local calls are also not allowed.

What do you mean by VoIP? (1)

A5un (586681) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162815)

VoIP need to be clarified here. Does it mean Voice that comes from IP network and terminates to PSTN? Or simply voice packets that travels through IP network and never touches PSTN?

Honestly, I don't see how any country can outlaw voice that never terminates to PSTN. Some countries might have national PSTN monopoly but if the packets never crosses to PSTN realm, how can you outlaw it? Voice packets are almost the same as any other IP packets. Heck, a SIP proxy can be set up in no time at all and most can support TLS connection these days. Couple with some SRTP and voila.. encrypted voice packets.

Re:What do you mean by VoIP? (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163765)

How can you outlaw file transfers? Heroes-S03E14.mkv packets are almost the same as Fedora-10-x86_64.iso packets. And so on and so forth.

Lack of enforceability rarely stops lawmakers.

Deep packet inspection used for blocking VoIP (4, Informative)

yahyamf (751776) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Deep packet inspection used for blocking VoIP (2, Interesting)

sysstemlord (1262162) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163341)

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.

Spain (1)

Pharago (1197161) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162879)

Legal, but the first bussiness did open a few years ago; telefonica wich was state run until recently and had ownership of all physical hardware and cabling all around the country did however boicot the capability of that bussisness to cope with demand, continuos DoS and numerous hardware misshandling from telefonica's forced the bussines to close, all of that happened under the table, legal afaik, but ethically cuestionable. Now there seems to be some VoIP operators, and that kind of behaviour had already been noticed by much more people as new ISPs had to rent infrastructure from telefonica and had somewhat a similar problem, looks like telefonica keeps now a low profile, the first VoIP operator didnt have that luck.

Re:Spain (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164485)

I moved to the Canary Island las year and I make my living as a Internet / software guru.

In Spain the maximum upload you can get is 320kbps. Legally all they need to provide is at least 25% of the declared speed. When you complain about packet lost they don't understand, care or listen what are you talking about.

We have 4 VOIP server across Europe and we switch between them according to the last amount of packet lost on the line.

"wisky tango foxtrot? I've been arrested?" (2, Interesting)

i_b_don (1049110) | more than 5 years ago | (#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

Youtube killed the radio star??? I don't think so (1)

i_b_don (1049110) | more than 5 years ago | (#27162957)

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 a cell for in-country here in Japan.)

Re:Youtube killed the radio star??? I don't think (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163295)

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.

Re:Youtube killed the radio star??? I don't think (1)

i_b_don (1049110) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163537)

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 countries that have strong state owned telephone company may have a harder time letting go, but any free country with high internet usage wouldn't need a conventional phones lines soon.

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.

I don't see the reason that landlines can't just die. There's no "critical app" that keeps them rooted anymore. The only reason it's still here is legacy. In first world countries, it will die as soon as market penetration gets too low, and i think that'll happen in the next 10 or 20 years.

But as i said, cell phones will do the killing, not VoIP. More people have cell phones than have internet connections.

d

Re:Youtube killed the radio star??? I don't think (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163839)

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.

New Zealand (1)

geoff_syndicate (863418) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163065)

The main telcos were supposed to get together to create a registry for ENUM records which would let New Zealanders use PSTN phone numbers over a VOIP service, but they were all conveniently distracted with the number portability task, that required the skills of everyone who would have been able to create an ENUM registry. Not surprisingly, number portability was done and no one was interested in getting started on the ENUM job. InternetNZ was supposed to be leading the charge, but for some reason they're not too interested either. VOIP is legal here, but there is little enthusiasm for integrating it with the PSTN network.

Re:New Zealand (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163303)

that's basically irrelevant, since Skype, for example, operates for free over your internet. If you have sufficient bandwidth (broadband), then Skype will carry your telephone conversations over it. It is that simple.

Re:New Zealand (1)

geoff_syndicate (863418) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163645)

Yes, but with PSTN integration you can use your standard Telecom phone number and direct it to your computer or VOIP-enabled device. On an iPhone for instance, you would be able to receive phonecalls through a standard phone number, at local calling costs (ie, free) anywhere in the world.

For some strange reason, the telcos don't want to enable such a service.

Re:New Zealand (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163859)

Skype offers PSTN ingegration almost everywhere for a small fee. So it's not free... it's still pretty cheap. What's the problem?

A view of VoIP status in AU (2, Informative)

ivi (126837) | more than 5 years ago | (#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 (3, Informative)

masonc (125950) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163107)

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.

Ukraine (1)

Helge9210 (759666) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163139)

Ukraine: to sell VoIP services operators are required to buy a license. Without a license it's qualified as a "refile" and results in seizure of equipment and hefty fine.

Added: Skypephone Au$ 15 - $ 20 - $ 29 / mon (1)

ivi (126837) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163147)

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).

I roll my own (1)

eggman9713 (714915) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163219)

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.

Re:I roll my own (1)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163643)

Get over yourself. As subversive and cyberpunk as you think you're being, your ISP doesn't give a rat's ass.

Don't let nay-sayers give you the wrong impression (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163243)

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.

There is no VoIP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27163311)

VoIP deployment for general telephony is used only as a transport medium for POTS. It will never blossom while that continues, and it will continue until users start handing out sip addresses (instead of telephone numbers.)

We have to exterminate telephone numbers to make VoIP truly live.

-- Newall

In France (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163413)

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.

Re:In France (1)

m0i (192134) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163963)

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.

Re:In France (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164221)

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.

Germany (1)

Britz (170620) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163593)

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.

Zharco (1)

zharco (1497661) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163679)

Serbia and most of the other countries in Balkans: Legal since recently. My friend paid huge fine 2 years ago. State owned telco suited him for doing business "without them being involved" :) Now it's all better, same day the law was introduced commercials were everywhere, cheap cheap cheap...

In Pakistan (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27163685)

Well we here in Pakistan have had a smooth ride. We have been using VOIP for as long as we can remember and there has been no restriction that i know of .
Its another great disruptor technology IMHO.As bandwidth prices go down , better smart phones and yes MOIP technology gains ground it can give telcoms a run for their money.

Legal all over Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27163699)

I would say in all developed countries of relatively low corruption, it is legal. It did make the monopolists improve their business, but it didnt kill them. Most people are using mobile phones anyway (in China, they do that without a fixed line).

Legal in:
Norway,
Denmark,
Finland,
Germany,
Switzerland
Holland,
Belgium,
France,
UK,
Spain
Portugal
Italy
Pakistan
Japan
US
Australia

The rest I dont know, but it is very easy to guess
Illegal in India (at least international)

Malaysia (2, Informative)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163725)

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.

The brewery is shut. (1)

JerryQ (923802) | more than 5 years ago | (#27163823)

The fundamental telco problem is that they were founded on a profit model based on time/distance. You paid more for more time and more for more distance, essentially renting a circuit. IP is modelled on you pay for how fat your pipe (or tube ;-) ) is and how much you put through it, and time/distance are completely irrelevant. No national telco anywhere seems to have come up with a solution to this, so they try to hold back the tide by arbitrary control over IP content. They make me think of drunks who don't realise the brewery is now shut. Jerry

ISPs don't fight it, they join in... (1)

Targon (17348) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164535)

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 what the ISP offers.

In Britain (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#27164541)

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 real reason why this should be the case, and in a free market, you should expect voice traffic to fall to the same price as data traffic, and VOIP to disappear.

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