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Swedish Teleco Firms Looking Into Block VoIP Claiming Losses In Earnings

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the too-cheap-calls dept.

Businesses 151

An anonymous reader writes "Telia, a Swedish telecommunications company, is now looking into possible solutions to block free VoIP services like Skype and Vibr, claiming the losses are beginning to take its toll on the total earnings. Critics are saying the companies have wrongly implemented outdated pricing models, and the act could threaten net transparency and Independence. A new report from regulators of the European phone market shows that more and more telecommunications companies will block their subscribers from using free services. The European Commission is investigating whether it is possible to prohibit the blocking of legal services online."

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What the heck? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39519847)

Why is it that when companies managed to reach a nice cushioned position they complain when the rules of the game change? this does not make sense to me.
You had all this time to profit and INNOVATE. Why not start your own VOIP service? instead, like some retarded dictator you want to block progress.

Innovate or die.

Re:What the heck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39519873)

This would make as much sense as cable and satellite providers wanting to block free over the air television here in America because people can view those local channels for free.

But wait a second. Isn't the article talking about blocking people from using Skype on their mobile phones as "data"? I don't know if I understand the article.

Re:What the heck? (4, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520393)

It's like this:

In Europe most of us have flat-rate data for like, $10 a month. Some companies drop the speed after X megabytes but essentially there's no limits.

Using VOIP we can talk 24/7 for the entire month for only $10. This makes it very popular, especially among foreigners who call home a lot.

It's also very understandable that it makes the phone companies unhappy. They just gave you an Android smartphone for signing up, you're using their networks to make calls and they're only making $120 per year out of it.

Re:What the heck? (3, Informative)

MisterMidi (1119653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520557)

Yes, this is exactly why. Here in The Netherlands pretty much all operators have stopped offering unlimited plans though. Also, it's against the TOS to use VOIP, at least with my operator. I wouldn't be surprised if some operators block VOIP here too.

Re:What the heck? (5, Informative)

spxZA (996757) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520687)

Once a year I do some calculations, to figure out which is cheaper for me: a data-only mobile contract and Skype; or a voice contract.
Skype claims that a skype-to-skype call is at 3MB/min, while a skype-to-landline/mobile is at 1MB/min. Considering that most of the calls that are make are to people that don't have skype, I'll use the latter figure.
I sometimes use up to 400 minutes, or less (no carry-over, which is illegal, but we are too scared to fight this). So 350 minutes equates to 350MB skype-to-skype calls. Let's call it 400MB including presence, contact information. I use around 350MB/month when away from my wifi networks. The most applicable data bundle is 1GB, at ZAR290. An "unlimited" package goes for 10x this amount. So, I'll be paying around ZAR320/month for the contract, including their lovely add-ons they always manage to squeeze in.
Next is the cost of skype. If i choose the pay-per-minute option, I'll be paying ZAR0.177/minute, or roughly ZAR61.95/month. This brings my total monthly bill to ZAR381.95, rounding up for the unexpected - ZAR400/month.
I pay ZAR350 for 350 minutes per month, plus a few other items (promotion fee (WTF is that???), itemized statement). The cost of the phone is included in all of that. Assuming I don't go over any of my bundles (350 minutes, 100 sms, 350 GB), then I pay ZAR637/month. And yes, I do often go over my bundles.
So, a data-only contract (it's not data only, but rather the only bundle is data. Voice calls are paid at full rates - ZAR2.85) is 75% of a voice contract. Plus, i pay the same for local calls as I do for international calls when done through skype. ZAR400 vs ZAR637 is a massive difference, making it well-worth it. If I choose the skype route, I end up paying my mobile operator ~ZAR340/month instead of ~ZAR640/month. They will lose out ZAR300/month - or ZAR7,000 over a 24 month contract period.
If I was a mobile operator, I would hate to lose half of my income from a number of my users. But, that's what they get for bending us over the coals, pulling down our pants, and...well...this is a family show. I've used the most expensive skype option, so the prices for monthly or annual subscriptions would only drop.
The only issue is that of battery consumption of skype, and coverage. I spend 99.9% of my time in urban areas with semi-decent data coverage. For the times when I'm in rural/low coverage areas, then I would pay out my of ass to do voice calls. But I'm not too worried about that.
So my point is, yes mobile operators are losing money to VOIP. Yes, they can do something about that. But, they have been dropping their prices in recent years due to consumer demand and dissatisfaction, so they are losing "potential" revenue regardless. I say stick it to "the man" until we collapse the economy with all these work-arounds.

Re:What the heck? (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520711)

Or as much sense as carriage manufacturers forcing every automobile to be preceded by a man walking and waving a flag. Oh, wait, that one actually happened...

Re:What the heck? (5, Insightful)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39519941)

On one hand it's understandable that after giving their users nearly unlimited mobile net they feel tricked when noone is paying them for phone calls anymore. On the other hand if it's cheaper to make phone calls over Skype than it is in the traditional way that means that phone calls are hugely overpriced because Skype has strong security and much better sound quality than a phone call. In any case, they should have seen this coming and plan forward, transforming from telcos to mobile net companies.

Re:What the heck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520015)

Skype has strong security[citation needed]

Re:What the heck? (1)

ppanon (16583) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520083)

Well compared to POTS which used to be just an analog electrical conversion of a sound wave, and is now a simple digital approximation of the same using a trivial digital encoding (i.e. basically plain text), any encryption is going to be relatively much stronger security, even if it's only 56-bit DES encryption or an encryption algorithm with key escrow. He didn't say it was cryptographically strong security.

Re:What the heck? (4, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520417)

It may not be 100% secure but it's enough that even the NSA hasn't got the power to do mass snooping. They'll have to pick and choose who they can afford to dedicate computing time to. ...and it's unlikely that it will be DES these days. AES is no harder for a programmer to implement.

Re:What the heck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520835)

It may not be 100% secure but it's enough that even the NSA hasn't got the power to do mass snooping. They'll have to pick and choose who they can afford to dedicate computing time to.

And that is why they're building a new NSA datacenter. Just outside of Salt Lake City, UT, I believe.

Re:What the heck? (4, Interesting)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520133)

The biggest rumor about Skype is that there's an NSA/insert-government-here backdoor that lets them listen in on your Skype calls.

That already exists in every modern phone and has for decades now, so you're not really losing anything in that respect. You are, however, gaining much better call quality for a fraction of the price.

Re:What the heck? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520595)

AIUI If they can get control of the login server (including it's private key) and they can conveince your client to connect to thier host cache rather than the main host cache they can MITM your calls.

Re:What the heck? (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520667)

AIUI If they can get control of the login server (including it's private key) and they can conveince your client to connect to thier host cache rather than the main host cache they can MITM your calls.

Maybe... but they can already do that with regular ol' phones now can't they?

Re:What the heck? (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520149)

Oh boy, couldn't back that up with your name, eh? Had to go Anonymous? Typical.

Re:What the heck? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520269)

Why do you assume he even has an account? Personally I find it better to let each post stand on it's own merit rather than let it be judged on the basis of my previous statements and opinions.

Re:What the heck? (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520357)

There's practically no merit to a post consisting of nothing but the cliché "[citation needed]" response either way.

Re:What the heck? (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520737)

The data for phone calls is more scarce on at least some mobile protocols because it is isochronous, whereas data sold as data just goes into the unused slots. That said, the mobile companies really ought to offer a SIPPOTS gateway and separate out the charge for data from the charge for termination. If they were really clever, they'd make sure that the SIP stuff worked from any network connection, so they could still charge you for calls when you make them over WiFi.

Telia-Sonera exec wants to do the same thing (2)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520041)

he gave comments (i think during mwc) that they'll want a cut of skype/voip done on their networks. how they planned to do it he didn't mention, maybe he believes in some uber packet inspection. if they'll start doing that they'll be thoroughly fucked as their customers can just pick up and leave - which is why they're desperately trying to tie them in with device partial payment plans & other shit they've copied from at&t, for some reason they think that's the company to copy. you would think they'd have learnt from losing a shitload of customers back in the day when they were the only operator around these parts which didn't offer unlimited data(along with stupid stupid comments from an exec they had then who had previously been burnt by offering all-your-patrons-can-drink soda deals at another company). lucky for us finns our networks all work on the same tech!

Doesn't surprise at all, since T-S has been majorly fucking up their pr since they were formed and they're totally out of touch of the concept of selling data and what that means. they're also a dinosaur that got used to well paying clients just being given to them because they're telia-sonera(gov&etc).

Re:What the heck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520249)

They do have their own VOIP service - they run your voice-service over their IP network and bill you at traditional voice service rates - that's their business model.
That started off telephone exchanges were going digital, and more bits were needed to transport voice traffic than data traffic.

The actual bit rates required to provide voice services were closely guarded secrets, but they were never more than 64Kbits (ISDN) rates. Now that more information is sent by data (computer traffic) than by voice, it's easier to run voice traffic over data networks. You might have all sorts of virtual private networks, but it will be the same fibre optic cables and repeaters than carry both voice and data traffic. But they can brand these services, and make you pay extra for things like caller ID, three way calling, voice mail. There's no actual physical change to your telephone exchange, just a few bits being set in some firmware on a circuit board somewhere.

As they are required to provide local telephone service at affordable rates, it is subsidized by international calls. Which naturally encourages everyone to use Skype to reduce these costs.

Re:What the heck? (3, Interesting)

CodeReign (2426810) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520569)

Honestly I find it amusing. My carrier (Rogers of Canada) is known for bad service. 3 years ago when I started with them they would proxy all voip communications from my smartphone (I don't know if they billed or just proxied for other reasons). 3 Weeks ago they rolled out a free VOIP service that requires using a computer (some proprietary front end) free to use for their customers (including free long distance and free texting from the computer to any line in Canada).

As it turns out I no-longer think of Rogers as a shit eating dung. I'm impressed with the service and the initiative (all-be-it the UI could use some improvements). I don't think I will be switching providers any time soon simply because this free service of theirs is amazingly decent considering the level of technology dampening they have tried in the past.

Some notes: The service allows me to call using my cell number (as the callerID) and I can switch between voip and my cell phone by dialling *11 on either device (that is during a call I can go from free use voip bill per minute cellphone). When I was looking at switching to a voip home-phone for long distance at the beginning of the school year these where two things I never thought possible. Now they are something I absolutely love.

We fixed this in NL (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39519865)

In the Netherlands, the largest telco (KPN) was also going to do this... then parliament rushed through a net neutrality law that forbids deep packet inspection and blocking specific traffic and the telcos backed off quickly. Now they can only charge by amount of data and speed. Maybe the Swedish will get lucky too now.

Not yet... (3, Informative)

thrill12 (711899) | more than 2 years ago | (#39519943)

...while the parliament voted on this (in favor) already, the Senate ("Eerste Kamer") can still vote it down. Although chances are slim, the (indirectly elected) Senate in the Netherlands proved in the past that their view of the country is sometimes substantially different from that of the directly elected representatives. Officially the Senate can only regard the law against the constitution, but recent developments made the senate a more political institute. Because currently there are critical negotiations going on to keep the government in office, there is no saying what will be decided in that meeting room that affects ongoing legislation, including any Senate decisions. ( https://www.bof.nl/2012/03/05/stemming-eerste-kamer-telecommunicatiewet-uitgesteld/ [www.bof.nl] in Dutch and https://www.bof.nl/2011/06/22/press-release-%E2%80%93-the-netherlands-first-country-in-europe-to-launch-net-neutrality/ [www.bof.nl] on the original law in English)

Re:Not yet... (4, Informative)

pieterbos (2218218) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520115)

Regardless of the law being accepted or not, the combination of the resistance amongst the public and the politicians agains the telco plans and the proposal of this law had a significant effect: the telco's withdrew their plans. And they are slowly switching to a different pricing model, where data is the main component. And in one case, already the new phone subsidy has changed into a phone lease, for which you pay separately if you want it.

This does mean that the price of data becomes a significant amount of the price of your monthly phone bill. It doesn't magically mean that data is now free and unlimited, and not even that things like price differences within and outside of your data limit will disappear. You will not suddenly pay less in all cases, telephone companies still need to make money. But it does force them into a more fair pricing plan.

Re:Not yet... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520263)

I ended up paying more due to my data usage, possibly as a result of the net neutrality law, but.. I wouldn't want it any other way. I'd rather pay more (or use a bit less) in the short term and ensure that we have net neutrality, rather than keeping my 'unlimited' data subscription but ending up paying extra for certain services in the long term.

I was very happy to see people & politics care about the net neutrality issue, I hope the senate won't screw up it

Re:We fixed this in NL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520489)

This already exists in the Swedish legislation. Though if the end-users wishes to agree to an EULA stating that their internet communications will be monitored in order to censor specific traffic, it's up to themselves.

Re:We fixed this in NL (1)

marqs (774373) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521203)

Unfortunately I don't think that will help in this case. I use one of the other Swedish operators mobile data plan for my mobile and so far Skype and similar services work just fine, but the point is that by using them I violate the service terms since it clearly states that "Trafik för fildeling och IP-Telefoni ingår ej" i.e p2p and voip trafic is not included. So I guess that they legally can charge whatever fee they want for this trafic...

Will they ever learn? (3, Insightful)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | more than 2 years ago | (#39519867)

This sounds just like the music and movie business when they were trying to resist the changes in technology instead of embracing it.
We know how that worked out.
Maybe the telecom people should start reading the news?

Re:Will they ever learn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39519889)

This sounds just like the music and movie business when they were trying to resist the changes in technology instead of embracing it.

... and they still do.

Re:Will they ever learn? (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520177)

We know how that worked out.

They're going to start suing their customers and put a bad taste in everyone's mouth (except for the lawyers), all while making a massive pile of money (although not as much as they used to)?

Re:Will they ever learn? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520535)

all while making a massive pile of money (although not as much as they used to)?

Maybe not the music industry, but "Hollywood" (MPAA members) had record profits year after year from 2006 to 2010, at least. So they're making more money than they used to.

Re:Will they ever learn? (3, Interesting)

zandeez (1917156) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520275)

I know what you mean, but in the UK, BT were forced years ago to open their network to other providers, and on top of that the use of VoIP were eating into their traditional revenue streams. Are BT crying about it? No, they're implementing VoIP technology on their main network to reduce their running costs and are offering new, better and complimentary data, voice and management services to pick up an entirely new revenue stream.

Re:Will they ever learn? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520759)

And they're charging a £10/month line rental to the customer for just having current going to your phone socket, on top of what BT Wholesale charges the ISP. You need to pay this to use any ADSL service unless you're on one of the few exchanges with local loop unbundling. In areas with cable, this makes ADSL completely uncompetitive.

Re:Will they ever learn? (1)

zandeez (1917156) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521173)

So true. I live in a cabled area, my choices are minimum 20Mbps cable with virgin media (after they go on their free doubling) or maximum 3.5Mbps with anyone else. But BT should be rolling out Infinity in my area soon too. But even with cable you still get your telephone services over a standard analog line.

Re:Will they ever learn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521145)

Well, as long as their is money to be made they will continue. If they know that for each month they delay they will earn X amount for a cost of Y. As long as Y is smaller than X they will continue...

It's most visible within the Phone/TV/Music/Movie/ISP -industries.

For example, ISP's love low bandwith customers that use their connections very seldom... Less support = less employees, lower bandwith usage = no need for infrastructure upgrades and lower costs for their uplinks.
A 1Gbit connection can be a bit pricey. But when you think of the overbooking they do, 100-1000 times depending on the number of customers, it's quite minimal per customer. 1000 customers with a 100Mbit connection. 100 times overbooking = 1Gbit connection. 1Gbit connection it will be quite low for each person. Lets say 2000Eur per month. = 2Eur per user. If we use the more common x1000 overbooking lots of ISP's do it's 0.2Eur..
If they would raise their price with 0.2Eur or 2Eur per connection for real unlimited transfer they would get alot of new customers, but this would also increase their costs for support etc. and this will in the end result in a lower profit, even with more customers.

Here in Sweden some cities has built their own fiber network that real companies can go in and rent for costs. All they need is one connection-point and they need to take care of the support for the user. This has reduced the prices for a really fast connection very fast.. I pay about 10Eur per month for a 100Mbit (soon to be 1Gbit) connection including VOIP. Bandwith is real unlimited. Usually top out at between 100Gb to 1Tb per month (avg maybe 300Gb) depending on how much i'm home and how much streaming i do. So i'm using about one 86'th of a 100Mbit connection. 100Mbit ~ 100Eur for bandwith would result in a avg bandwith cost of me for 1.16Eur per month... For the months i'm at 1Tb it would be 3.85Eur in bw costs....

putting some numbers here usually makes people understand that bandwith is not expensive.. The things that are expensive is when each ISP builds their own city-wide networks by themselves instead of sharing a common network. I see the last mile of wire the same as i see plumbing and water.. Something the city should provide and then allow all companies to compete on the same terms... Also if the city does it it will result in a lower cost for the last mile since they will put it down all at the same go instead of connecting place for place..

NOTHING WORSE THAN ANGRY SWEDES !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39519881)

But then swedes are always angry, aren't they !! Anyone know why sweden has more per-capita suicides than any place else, even foxconn china !!

Re:NOTHING WORSE THAN ANGRY SWEDES !! (2, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39519915)

FUN FACT [wikipedia.org] : Sweden has the 30th highest suicide rate, below both New Zealand and Switzerland. The worst country in the world (for which we have statistics) is Lithuania, apparently.

Re:NOTHING WORSE THAN ANGRY SWEDES !! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520045)

You just redefined meaning of the word 'Fun' for me!

Re:NOTHING WORSE THAN ANGRY SWEDES !! (4, Insightful)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520241)

Not really angry, more like depressed. The winters are long, cold, and dark.

It is not helped by the fact that Swedes are notoriously uncommitted in their relationships, resulting in one of the highest, if not the highest percentage of 1-person households and single-parent families on the planet. Stockholm is littered with foreigners who married Swedes, moved here, then got dumped a few years later ("Ah well, this is our third argument this year, it's too much trouble to work out, I'm just divorcing you instead"--I shit you not, this actually happened to a friend of mine) and they wind up staying on so they can see their kids. And many of these ex-pats seem to spend most of their time, when not at work or visiting the kids, getting drunk and/or drug-fucked.

Don't get me wrong, I've lived here for nearly 5 years. As a resident and as a worker, I've been treated extremely well, and I'm very grateful for this. But I am really glad I met someone who's also not from here, instead of trying to hook up with a Swedish girl.

And it can be a beautiful country (especially in the summer, when it never really gets dark), and some Swedes are actually quite warm and friendly. But it's also true that about 20% of my neighbours in this building are single, live alone, don't go out much, and seem to have few if any visitors.

It's a bit sad. And if you are at all prone to depression, it can be a real struggle to make it through the winter here. This comes from one who knows all too well.

Re:NOTHING WORSE THAN ANGRY SWEDES !! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520463)

Hi, while I'm glad you have liked your stay (so far), I'd like to point out that Stockholm (Göteborg and Malmö) have extraordinary divorce rates, all of them about 50% higher than any "normal" region, secondly swedes born in Sweden (married to another swede) are less likely to get get a divorce than other couples in other regions of the world (hard to make a fair comparison tbh since these figures are compared to very large regions such as EU27, EU except EU 27, Africa, North America etc.) - it is speculated (by the fine gents at SCB (Statistics Sweden) that Stockholm et al. had that high ratios because 22-30% immigrants live there (than other regions) and some minorities, like africans, divorce twice as often (as the mean).

So, please don't call swedes "uncommitted", if you think we're all lovable sex-maniacs at least say so :P

Re:NOTHING WORSE THAN ANGRY SWEDES !! (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520831)

Förlåt mig, kompis--you are quite right to distinguish between urban and other Swedes. And it also seems that (my experience only) Swede-Swede marriages, especially when one or both partners are not from the big city, do tend to last longer.

If we wind up staying on here many more years, I would really prefer to move down to Malmö or Kalmar. The folks in Skåne and Småland are much more congenial, and they have even offered to help me get rid of that horrible Stockholm accent and learn to speak proper Swedish instead. :)

I can't say much about Africans living here, as I don't know very many of them. Most of my non-Swedish friends here are from East/Southeast Asia.

I've noticed that the Swedish man + Thai (or Chinese) woman combo is quite popular here (at least in/around Stockholm), and those marriages seem to be quite happy and long-lived. The marriages most likely to fail (again, just my observation) seem to be between Swedish women and foreign men.

As for the sex-maniac part--I wouldn't know, never having slept with a Swede. (Although I have stumbled across one or two Swedish couples in the woods round Midsommar, celebrating the event in lusty fashion, so I am pretty sure that baby Swedes are made the same way as babies in other countries.)

So no, I didn't mean imply that Sweden is a bad or ugly country or that the people are completely uncaring.

But it can be damned lonely at times, even in the city. And I personally find the extremes in the seasons here to be a bit hard to deal with sometimes.

Bra så... tack för samtalet (och rättningen)!

Re:NOTHING WORSE THAN ANGRY SWEDES !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521055)

Ingen fara :) It wasn't really that I found your description incorrect per se (divorces are pretty common, but from my understanding most divorces are done either within three years, after ~20 years or not at all), I just thought it could use some nuances as I didn't want people unfamiliar with Sweden to think Stockholm is somehow representative of all of Sweden, and there are a lot of factors to consider when studying social phenomena (for an example one american study I found linked divorce rate in the US to economic prosperity (as the economy slowed down, so did marriages and divorces) - so perhaps our comparative wealth makes it easier to actually be single?) but I digress.

Normally I wouldn't care to argue the point since people usually don't move here for the marriage prospects anyway, but since I've seen swedes described as "uncommited" "cold" and "not-kind" (apparently not to be confused with unkind) within something like a week here on /. I guess some small patriotic flag-toting part of me thought it was worth to point out that we're not *quite* as homogenized as people seem to like to think of us and that some statistics may not even show "Swedish behaviour" but "urban/rural behaviours".

Lycka till med flytten, Skåne rekommenderas varmt - långt fler soltimmar per år än Stockholm (och mindre snö!).

Re:NOTHING WORSE THAN ANGRY SWEDES !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521201)

Do yourself a favour and get out of Sweden :) I just escaped five years in Scandinavia and your experiences sound very similar to mine. Luckily, I avoided entanglements with local women and have moved somewhere with more opportunity and people who possess both manners/courtesy and soul. Two things distinctly lacking in that part of the world.

Re:NOTHING WORSE THAN ANGRY SWEDES !! (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520575)

Not really angry, more like depressed. The winters are long, cold, and dark

The winters in Scotland are about as long, almost as cold, about as dark and damp. (I've been in both countries in the winter. Sweden is nicer: lying snow at least makes things look brighter, I don't like the mist and mud in Scotland. I've only spent about two weeks in each (in winter), though.)

Yet, although Scotland currently has a higher suicide rate than England, this wasn't the case 50 years ago: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-16950313 [bbc.co.uk]

I think the other points you make are more important than the weather.

Re:NOTHING WORSE THAN ANGRY SWEDES !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520839)

hmmh... you make it sound like divorce is the end of the world. If people come along with each other living in separate households, maybe it's better for everyone, at least if the kids are old enough to handle that, and new-families being so common no one needs to feel inferior because of it.

Re:NOTHING WORSE THAN ANGRY SWEDES !! (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521023)

hmmh... you make it sound like divorce is the end of the world.

Ever been married? Divorced? Ever move to another country on account of marrying someone from there, then have them dump you a few years later, leaving you on your own in a foreign land (where they don't even speak your language) with no other reason to be there except the kids (who also don't speak your language, only their mother's)?

Doesn't sound like it.

Anyhow, I don't see where I've said or implied anything end-of-the-world-ish at all, and I view my own divorce as absolutely necessary and unavoidable. But I don't view marriage as something to be disposed of lightly, either.

Suggestion: You might actually consider and address the problems that such people face, instead of trying to dismiss them as unimportant, or to portray me as some sort of drama queen.

Re:NOTHING WORSE THAN ANGRY SWEDES !! (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520619)

That fact was true in the 1950s, when Eisenhower quoted it in order to rubbish socialist governments. It has not been true for decades.

Re:NOTHING WORSE THAN ANGRY SWEDES !! (1)

sita (71217) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520633)

And then only because the underreporting of suicides was lower in Sweden compared to other countries, probably for cultural factors.

And so goes the takeover of human communication (3, Interesting)

ebusinessmedia1 (561777) | more than 2 years ago | (#39519911)

These telecommunications companies are little more than parasites. They don't ENABLE anything on their own. First, they leverage all kinds of free subsidies (your tax dollars) to build their networks. Then, they wrangle out of taxes by taking business deductions, usually paying their worthless CEO's and other senior executives obscene amount of money for doing exactly what? Taking credit for the INternet and its associated benefits to technology, even as they choke off the benefits of those technologies.

What's even more breathtaking is that its tax money (made from our tax dollars, earned by the sweat of our ever-longer work days) that actually *paid* for their infrastructure.

Last, the thing that really amps me up about stuff like this is that telecommunications companies and ISPs, etc. are essentially using technology that they didn't invent, to leverage YOUR and my communicative assets!

Communication was "free" until we began to find ways to increase it's speed, depth, and breadth. From the stone tablet, to the scribes, to the early offset printers (and print distributors), to the Internet and its multifarious ways of data and information transmission, certain folks have found a way to horde either the means to information production, or its transmission.

Guess what? That model isn't going to work anymore, not if we want a sustainable information ecology that is as diverse as possible.

Sorry, but these ISPs and telcos are little more than traitors to human advancement, masquerading as enablers. They want to suck us dry; they want all the benefits. They want tax breaks made by the policy makers that they buy every few years to build their infrastructures, and then they want us to pay them more, as if the tax breaks (which we ultimately pay for) and the infrastructure (which we also pay for), and the very source of communications that they leverage (you and me), isn't enough.

We need to start finding ways (I don't have the answers, just posing the possibility) to once and for all RID this world of these gatekeepers, because they are interested in keeping only one thing sustainable - their bank accounts. They could give a damn about whether the world is better serves by more transparent and facile communications technology. The Telco and ISP sector are, again, traitors to human growth and development. We need to find another way.

Re:And so goes the takeover of human communication (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520251)

From the stone tablet, to the scribes, to the early offset printers (and print distributors), to the Internet and its multifarious ways of data and information transmission, certain folks have found a way to horde either the means to information production, or its transmission.

You sound like one of them there Commies, to me, pal... :D

You've got it wrong - not US infrastructure (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520363)

Bell didn't build their stuff over there - governments built their stuff and now some private companies sitting on top of it doing nothing but charging a toll. Do you get what he is writing about now?
Australia has a similar problem with Telstra doing as little as possible since 1996 and charging whatever they can get away with. It's not quite as bad because there is a little bit of privately built infrastructure but I can see where the above poster is coming from, especially since I need to pay more than $1000US per month to get 6M/6M to one site due to vultures charging whatever they can for old infrastructure paid for by the taxpayer.

Re:You've got it wrong - not US infrastructure (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520901)

You seem to have missed the emoticon at the end. Please check your humour indicator and recalibrate as needed. (And see my posting history for guidance, you'll find easily that I'm no corporate apologist.)

As it happens, I lived for some years in Brisbane, and I'm well acquainted with Telstra's *and* Optus' shenanigans. (I've been a customer of both, and they both suck.) As well as those of the telcos in the US, where I am from originally.

(ExecSummary: "Looks like you've been whoooshed, mate.")

Re:And so goes the takeover of human communication (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520625)

Agreed. I have watched this happen over and over and over and somehow the majority of people seem to not notice and STILL think that companies have the interests of common people at heart... No. They just want your money and will take it for doing as little as possible for as long as possible (its called maximizing profits). Its amazing, both otherwise intelligent and not so intelligent people are the same way on this topic. I think its because people want to believe that everyone else would see things how they see them.

Anyhow. I totally agree with what you've stated here. Same way with Metro busses and railways (which are normally HEAVILY) subsidized. Same thing with oil. I love (read: that is SARCASTIC) how they get subsidies to run their business (although they are the most profitable industry and companies IN THE WORLD), probably get tax write offs on some of their actual machinery, and are actually taking a national resource for our country out of the ground to sell for their own privatized gain. And they don't even sell it to the american public, they put it on the world market so that americans can buy our own national resource back from *the world*. HTF does that make sense in terms of our own national interest? It doesn't. I'm going to stop talking about this because it makes me mad. But get a movement going --> IM THERE

Re:And so goes the takeover of human communication (1)

sousoux (945907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520659)

I totally agree. I have for a long time thought that the only way to solve this problem is to split the wholesale and retail portions of the telecoms business by legislation. If all telco wholesalers (network operators) had to sell with flat terms through multiple resellers (customer owners/MVNOs) then in my opinion a lot more innovation would occur in the market. This would be easy to implement in wireless where there are multiple networks (tower ownership is still an area where there are monopoly concerns). Any natural monopolies in the system (last mile cable, towers) would need to be government administrated (government ownership with private contractors providing the service). This structure would also favor our national telecoms equipment providers who are getting massacred by Chinese state subsidized companies.

Also in Finland (4, Informative)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 2 years ago | (#39519933)

TeliaSonera is a telco that actually operates both in Finland and in Sweden, and they're planning to block people from using Skype for free on the Finnish side of things, too. Their plan is to allow you to buy Skype talk-time that then allows the service through until the time is up. Do notice that this is in *addition* to what one already has to pay for Skype credits, so this has understandably created quite some negative commentary here and there.

The funny thing is that it's only TeliaSonera contemplating on doing this, all the others are more than fine with the situation as it is, and are even actively promoting unrestricted mobile broadbands.

Re:Also in Finland (1)

linhux (104645) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520415)

The funny thing is that it's only TeliaSonera contemplating on doing this, all the others are more than fine with the situation as it is, and are even actively promoting unrestricted mobile broadbands.

In Finland, perhaps, but in Sweden basically all the operators have been considering blocking VoIP for quite a long time [mobil.se] (article in Swedish, apologies).

Re:Also in Finland (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520911)

Hm. I thought read in yesterday's Metro a statement from a Telenor exec to the effect that they aren't planning to institute any sort of usage filtering in the foreseeable future...?

Re:Also in Finland (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521345)

in the foreseeable future...?

That's a key bit here.. see you have a large industry that all want to do it but none want the bad PR they know will come with it.. once One of them does it and survives the PR backlash then the others can make a better judgement call on it and will be follow suit. To them it's nothing but risk assessment, all this comment proves is that the Telenor exec in question isn't willing to put his neck on the line for the current unknown risk, once the risk is know he will to the full extent that it will make him money.

Re:Also in Finland (1)

LilWolf (847434) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520681)

The funny thing is that it's only TeliaSonera contemplating on doing this, all the others are more than fine with the situation as it is, and are even actively promoting unrestricted mobile broadbands.

Some years ago TeliaSonera was also the only ISP in Finland to talk about adding transfer limits to their non-mobile broadband service. They quickly stopped talking about that because they lost customers and the other service providers weren't going to jump aboard. So in a sense they're a front runner in Finland with stupid ideas and restriction.

I doubt their plan will go through in Finland. They'll just lose too many customers.

European Commission (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39519937)

The European Commission is investigating whether it is possible to prohibit the blocking of legal services online.

Write it properly:

"The European Commission is deciding whether it is going to let them prohibit the blocking of legal services online."

The final decision will depend on.... well teleco companies have more lobbyist than teleco users... Have a guess!!

Monthly Subscription Fees... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39519945)

If you are a subscriber and you pay a monthly fee to a communication company for Internet access and telecommunication services (phone, short messages) then the subscriber should be the one to decide what he wants to do on the internet, even if it's VoIP communication. He/She pays for that specific service, the usage of the Internet and those companies should deliever what they offer.

What's next? Are they going to block instant messenger apps because people use their Short Message Services less?

Re:Monthly Subscription Fees... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520057)

If you are a subscriber and you pay a monthly fee to a communication company for Internet access and telecommunication services (phone, short messages) then the subscriber should be the one to decide what he wants to do on the internet, even if it's VoIP communication. He/She pays for that specific service, the usage of the Internet and those companies should deliever what they offer.

What's next? Are they going to block instant messenger apps because people use their Short Message Services less?

funny that you mention that. there's several operators that had/have plans where you paid a free for using their msn solution.

while you could just pay for data.

Re:Monthly Subscription Fees... (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521111)

funny that you mention that. there's several operators that had/have plans where you paid a free for using their msn solution.

I am ashamed to admit that I got suckered by this myself not long after I moved here, not knowing any Swedish at the time and not realising that their "MSN Messenger" was basically a trojan wrapped around the real thing--this trojan having permissions to add a separate usage charge to my bill whenever I fired up the app. Took me 3 friggin' months to get the "automatic subscription" removed, even after I uninstalled it from my phone.

This was Tele2 IIRC--I've since switched providers.

Slashdot editors looking into learn English (1, Insightful)

WillHirsch (2511496) | more than 2 years ago | (#39519951)

Deem too much effort

Why not block email then..? (1)

snailsupreme (1721694) | more than 2 years ago | (#39519959)

In favor of SMS.

Re:Why not block email then..? (1)

Elbart (1233584) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520853)

Or block SMS/text messages in favor of more expensive letters?

The same sh..t here (1)

alukin (184606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39519973)

I guess telecom guys are the same around the world. The same situation is here in Ukraine. VoIP with SIP is just tabooed by law. Government officials publicly speak about taxing Skype and ICQ.

Re:The same sh..t here (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520091)

Similar situation here in Germany too, albeit not quite as bad. Most providers (such as Vodafone or o2) don't allow tethering, VoIP and sometimes even IM on their lower end plans. Get a plan that's meant for tethering or use in a laptop and you're golden... that doesn't make the restrictions in lower plans OK, but at least we have a viable alternative.

I do, however, see where the phone companies are coming from - I don't think I've made more than 3 minutes worth of actual cell phone calls in the past month... Viber, SIPdroid (with the SIP landline-calls-flatrate provided by my DSL provider) and Skype pretty much take care of everything in the telephony department.

Why prohibit? (2)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 2 years ago | (#39519979)

Why don't we just choose the provider that gives us the best offer - for example the one that let's us use audio-over-the-internet, maybe at a higher prize?

Let providers be free to make whatever offers they want and let others be free to accept or decline.

Re:Why prohibit? (2)

eddy (18759) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520043)

Because they collude and no telco will offer the service that people want at a reasonable price, that's why. Also, telcos and ISPs shouldn't be allowed to interfere with traffic in any way shape or form beyond what's necessary to make sure it's delivered to its proper destination.

Re:Why prohibit? (1)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520157)

Because they collude and no telco will offer the service that people want at a reasonable price, that's why.

I'm gonna be a bit contrarian here, in part because it's an interesting issue to explore. Allow them to collude, I say! If you and I decide to start offering a service and also decide to be all colluding about it, what right does others have to prevent us? If they don't accept our offer, they can just say "no" and go on without it.

No one has any obligation to offer you any service at a price you find reasonable. No one has any obligation to offer you any service at all, even. If you don't find the price reasonable, walk on by. I do that with Ferraris every day.

Also, telcos and ISPs shouldn't be allowed to interfere with traffic in any way shape or form beyond what's necessary to make sure it's delivered to its proper destination.

If someone wants to offer a service wherein they alter the messages sent, let them! They might be a disgrace in the eyes of people like you and med who want a clean and tidy communications channel, but there is no wrongdoing in offering a service we don't want.

Re:Why prohibit? (1)

Ardyvee (2447206) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520459)

Except it would mess with how the internet is supposed to work. And this could lead to some serious drawbacks if Universities/Research Labs have to start paying MORE for Internet access. This could potentially lead on an increase on price on a lot of things. Internet access is a cost. If you let them go free on whatever they want, that cost may(will) go up.

And that is just one side of the issue.

Re:Why prohibit? (1)

eddy (18759) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521103)

Cool. And when I find you lying in the street having a heart-attack or stroke, I'll just stand there and stare at you because I have no phone on account of there being no contract that was actually usable.

Communication is too important to be left to the "invisible hand". You sound like someone who just had their first economy class and is high on free market ideals.

Re:Why prohibit? (1)

domatic (1128127) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521329)

They took our tax dollars to build the networks and often get subsidies and incentives from the government. Long as that is going, I'm not going to begin to listen to how telcos are entitled to all the benefits of free markets while the subscribers get stuck with all the liabilities.

Re:Why prohibit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521477)

m gonna be a bit contrarian here, in part because it's an interesting issue to explore. Allow them to collude, I say! If you and I decide to start offering a service and also decide to be all colluding about it, what right does others have to prevent us? If they don't accept our offer, they can just say "no" and go on without it.

No one has any obligation to offer you any service at a price you find reasonable. No one has any obligation to offer you any service at all, even. If you don't find the price reasonable, walk on by. I do that with Ferraris every day.

That only works for luxuries not necessary goods. Consider applying that logic to food for example. Internet access isn't a survival good like food, water or shelter but it is still necessary to keep up and remain relevant in the western world; people without access are at a disadvantage that only widens over time.

If someone wants to offer a service wherein they alter the messages sent, let them! They might be a disgrace in the eyes of people like you and med who want a clean and tidy communications channel, but there is no wrongdoing in offering a service we don't want.

The problem is that market power is biased heavily in favour of companies against individual customers so you need to prevent the providers from forcibly eliminating all uncensored plans then claiming the fact that they no-one offers uncensored plans is "proof" that customers are happy being screwed over. That said, there's nothing fundamentally wrong with offering anti-free speech services (as much as I hate the idea), just as long as they offer an uncensored feed at a fair price either by choice or by law along side their craptastic one, it's fine. [Caveat: No interfering with the actual Internet backbones, just customers connections to it only. The Internet is part of the commons like a forest, damaging the Internet may be profitable to the company, just like logging a forest, but everyone other than the person doing the damage suffers and is made poorer in the process]

This is sort of the "your right to swing your fists stops at my face" extended to "your right to do business freely ends when you persuade your "competitors" in your market segment to collude (breaking the market) thereby eliminating my, and everyone else's, freedom of choice in services". Companies, especially when several are working together, are just as capable of entrapping you as the government is. If everything worth having is priced out of your reach then those things may as well be illegal for all the difference it would make to you. Unless you have a powerful body on your side to help you (your own company or the government) then you will be stepped on and ignored in the pursuit of profit, fairness be damned.

Re:Why prohibit? (1)

rocket rancher (447670) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521387)

Because they collude and no telco will offer the service that people want at a reasonable price, that's why. Also, telcos and ISPs shouldn't be allowed to interfere with traffic in any way shape or form beyond what's necessary to make sure it's delivered to its proper destination.

I don't think that network neutrality makes sense when the flow of packets is pretty much unidirectional. Treating every packet identically as it moves through the internet means that this one-way flow cannot be optimized. For a car analogy, network neutrality is like having unsynchronized traffic lights. I live in a town where most people commute from east to west in the mornings, and west to east in the evenings. The traffic lights on the east-west corridors in my town are synchronized to optimize that east-west flow for several hours each day. Sure, it compromises north-south traffic flow, but there is a lot less of that than the east-west flow. I think that much of the bandwidth provided by the the internet, perhaps most of it, is used to move information in one direction only, from content providers to content consumers. Packet shaping that one-way flow makes sense to me, and it really can't be done if network neutrality must be maintained. I think packet shaping on a planetary scale is coming, and the tiered internet that it will create is pretty much inevitable. Producers have to have a way to get their product into the market place, and the costs associated with getting the product to market have to be minimized, just like any other cost, if the producer wants to maximize profits. A content provider who can secure a more direct channel to the content consumer has a decided competitive advantage over one that can't, and packet shaping provides that competitive advantage.

Re:Why prohibit? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520093)

You seems to think that the telecommunication industry is a free market. It is not. It provides vital infrastructure which means that it's, and should be, heavily subsidized and regulated.

Re:Why prohibit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520373)

I don't get the "should" part. Nor do I see in what way the telecommunications market is subsidised.

Re:Why prohibit? (1)

Kidbro (80868) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520699)

should: There's not an unlimited range of usable frequencies.
is: The infrastructure is mostly funded by tax money.

If I was Swedish.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520061)

I would drop Telia and go to another provider. Nothing beats shit like this than burying them by not giving them your money.

Re:If I was Swedish.. (1)

ahotiK (2426590) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520183)

Problem is the other operators will do the same thing soon and then you don't really have a choice. What I hate the most is the hypocrisy of companies like these. They were advertising apps (like skype) and free unlimited Internet access and smartphones just about until last year and were overexcited when "everyone" wanted to switch to a smartphone since that meant extra money for them in terms of new subscriptions (for buying a new phone) and of course different data plans and such. But now they have to be greedy and are trying to go back to limited data plans (which I kind of understand), but now this. I personally don't think this is the right way to go and it'll be hard to make it work. They'll "block" skype and viber, but then some other apps will pop up and then they'll block them and so on until what? Skype is making money off of a "free" product, so is Viber, why can't the operators be as smart? I mean we still pay for the Internet access.

Re:If I was Swedish.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520253)

Problem is the other operators will do the same thing soon and then you don't really have a choice

Well then maybe go to a ISP that does not sell a telephone service.
Hell that should be a law, all ISP's should not be allowed to sell any other services.

Re:If I was Swedish.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520395)

I am Swedish and I don't directly do any business with Telia whatsoever. My cell phone subscription is from Tele2, I have cancelled my landline since years back, and my internet comes from Comhem (which has not been owned by Telia since 2003).

Yet I am worried that if Telia actually goes through with something like this, other providers may well follow, especially Tele2 whose entire business model for cell phones is based on being the cheapest provider around.

What would non-Swedish AC suggest Swedish AC to do in this situation?

Re:If I was Swedish.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520933)

Talk to your local politician and tell them your displeasure.

Re:If I was Swedish.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520539)

The problem is that it is a real cost. We have to pay it one way or another. I am for net neutrality. But to magically wish that IP-telephony is free won't make it so. Just because our mobile internet is subsidised by our phonecalls right now doesn't mean they always will. The company just needs to switch how they get payed, either they need to start taking out payment for IP-telephony, or they need to raise prices for data to compensate what they lose from decrease in phonecalls.

I am against the special fee for IP-telephony but I can understand why they want it. It will be more fair to a majority of users that wants some internet access but still are willing to pay for calls.

Can they do it? (1)

daffy951 (546697) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520233)

Will the operators find a solution, or can the creators of VoIP apps easily find ways around the operators efforts to block them? How would the operators block an encrypted voice call on a random port?

I don't like this one bit. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520285)

The reasonable thing to do in a situation such as this would be boycotting Telia for not respecting their customers. Problem is, Telia is not the only operator that wants to stop Skype and equivalent services. In fact, I don't think there's a reasonable alternative at all. I don't want to share too much of my inside info even though I'm posting as Anonymous Coward, but enabling of blocking certain services is being built into charging systems that are used by huge operators all over the world. I believe this is just the beginning.

What sickens me is how Telia (and the others) seem to view their customers. They obviously don't care at all - and that I believe most people have understood for a long time - but do they have to be so obvious about it? Got a problem with me using your wireless Internet connection (which I pay for) to make "free" calls? Increase the price of the connection itself then, but keep your dirty noses out of my business and never you mind what I use your connection for.

Another thing that really bothers me is the slippery slope this puts us all on. What's next? "Oh, you can connect with people for free on Facebook - on OUR network? We're going to have to charge you extra for that." Maybe they should just start charging us for being able to communicate using morse code by flashing the monitors of our phones in different patterns..

I wonder if Telia has really lost much money on this anyways. People still make regular phone calls, don't they? Reminds me of how the copyright industry wants everyone to feel sorry for it, even though it's still making unbelievable amounts of (undeserved?) money.

Re:I don't like this one bit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520507)

Telia also offers the most expensive internet access solution in Sweden today ($ 45 for 10/10 Mbps). They even attempt to block other Swedish ISPs if the ISPs don't pay cash directly to Telia.

Media coverage of this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520349)

I am quite frustrated over the media coverage of this. To a great extent, swedish media has bought the message that Telia needs to restrict these services because they need to be able to "charge for our services". Journalists don't seem to pick up on the inconsistency here. Telia undeniably does charge for their service, and their service in this case is to be a bitpipe provider. You do need to buy a data plan to be able to use Skype or similar services, Telia does not provide mobile broadband for free. And it is just not right to sell a plan with say 1 or 5 or 10 Gb of data traffic, and then cry in media about how they are hurt by free services using the data they just charged their customer for.

They are getting paid, they just don't want to spell out their real problem. The margin for data traffic is much lower than for voice or SMS. Now they are doing the wrong thing trying to filter which services their customers use on top of the bitpipe instead of adjusting the pricing plans to be aligned with the real cost of providing each service.

I do hope (and think) one or more of the other providers will take the opportunity to gain market share instead of following suit with the service blocking idiocy though.

They are ISPs not telecom operators... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520355)

In Sweden all mobile operators advertise almost exclusively mobile broadband. They want you to replace your traditional home broadband with mobile solutions, which in my eye makes them more ISPs than phone companies.

This happened in Belize (2)

rebelwarlock (1319465) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520385)

Belize Telecommunications Limited, which is essentially a monopoly in Belize (there is another cell phone provider and some cable companies provide internet, but BTL owns all the infrastructure pretty much), charges an already poor nation ridiculously high prices. International calls to and from the country are incredibly high, sometimes measured in dollars (!!!) per minute. On top of that, they bought censorship software from China in order to block VOIP traffic. Their justification for this was so that they could maintain low (?) prices on their phone rates. When this happened, it broke a lot of things, most notably MMOs.

I left the country three years ago, and things have improved slightly since then, but at the time, a 128k DSL line cost a total of about $85usd a month, when all the charges were added up. This is in a country where minimum wage is around $1.50usd. There are about 350,000 people in the whole country, and if I'm not mistaken, BTL reported a net profit of $13.5mil USD last year. So I'm going to have a hard time with ISPs attempting to justify this sort of thing.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520391)

If they were smart, they would change the plan like this:
1. Lower voice prices drastically, to equal or less than the level of Skype (i.e. to break-even levels).
2. Raise price on their "unlimited" data plans if needed.

Seriously, if the phone company charges me $0.33 per minute to call overseas, and Skype or Google Voice costs me like $0.02, then the phone company is charging too much. If they managed to block it, I would just use my computer with a different internet source. For that price difference, being portable isn't even that big of a deal.

They could also try to be slick like NTT in Japan. They started their own VOIP service which is cheaper than normal service, but still costs more than Skype, etc. Yet they advertise it better, and it comes with a Japanese phone number included in the price, so more people will probably end up using it than Skype. (I'm sure that computer-centric people will use Skype or a similar tool).

This is being done in Spain and Germany right now (1)

andyteleco (1090569) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520483)

In both of these countries where I have recently lived, many companies (mostly the big players like Vodafone, T-Mobile, Orange, etc) are already either blocking VoIP or forbidding its use contractually. Yoigo, a spanish subsidiary company of Telia Sonera is one of these.

However, luckily users still have the option of changing to other operators (mostly "virtual" providers who sublet the network infrastructure from the main players) who are more than happy to allow access to VoIP in order to get new customers.

I think they will all eventually have to change their attitude; in Spain the 3 big players have been losing millions of customers in the last years because of their arrogance, poor customer service, institutionallized scams, etc.

P.S. there is a way of getting around VoIP blocking for making calls to regular phones. Just use "local access numbers" (normally you can call them for free) from one of the many Betamax clones and make your calls through there.

Re:This is being done in Spain and Germany right n (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520973)

Another solution would be to use a VPN to reach the VoIP provider. Sipgate at least I know offers this.

wouldn't want the marketdroids to actually WORK (1)

dltaylor (7510) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520689)

It's sooo much easier to blame "the Internet" than figure out a pricing model that makes it sufficiently convenient to use the "telephone system" (yes, I know that the telcos frequently use the Internet themselves) to make a telephone call that enough subscribers continue to do that rather than putting the (not terribly much) extra effort to set up and use Skype, ...

next step.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520719)

Will be that the telcos complains that people not are using "their" music shop or video service or travel service or web page or looking at sites with "their" ads on, as well as that people are not shopping in "their" webshops...

This can continue forever.. They will always find a new "issue" with people using internet that the not get any profit from.

This might however stop by itself.. Telia tried with volumebased billing on their DSL services..
Then people only changed to a different ISP so Telia had to drop that "perfect" service..

A mobile Telco - that should be in the summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39520785)

It should be in the summary that this is a mobile telco. Not a landline provider. FFS most of the comments here about landlines. A little bit of accuracy on the summary wouldn't go a miss. But wait - this is slahsdot and it wouldn't get on the front page now would it....

game changed (3, Interesting)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520841)

Disclaimer: I used to work for a telco, and was close to the C-level, so some actual business insight might be included, as long as supplies last, some assembly required.

The problem the telcos are trying to solve is twofold, especially for the old and large (often ex-government) ones.

The economic problem is that they have massive amounts of hardware, space and other investments tied up into POTS systems. Putting up the whole IP infrastructure wasn't cheap either, and now one of them is destroying the other. That's like having two cars and then your wife leaves - there's simply too much hardware in your garage you don't need. If you can't get rid of it, you will find yourself trying to use both, convincing yourself that one is better for city driving while the other is better for hauling stuff or long-distance or whatever. But the simple fact is that you simply don't like going perfectly good stuff to waste.

The other problem is pricing. Internet access was initially sold as an add-on, to gain more customers. The price point was designed for that case. Also, after privatisation, many countries in Europe entered a price-war amongst the telcos, driving prices down to a level that only few could sustain for long. Now they are at that point, usage patterns have long since changed with IP traffic being orders of magnitude higher, but they can't raise the prices because that would mean losing customers to the competition. And customers mean everything, because this is one of the businesses where the big honcho monkeys believe that only the top players can compete in the long run, so losing customers is the direct route for the CEO to lose his job. Not because of any actual facts, even if he keeps the company profitable, but because the big shareholders have all subscribed to a mantra that is accepted at face value.

All the throttling and filtering and bla that is being discussed is because during the land-grab phase of getting as many customers as possible, and Internet access being one big weapon in that, they basically allowed marketing to dig them into a very deep hole with its promises of unlimited high-speed access for almost no money.

Does this really matter? (1)

billcarson (2438218) | more than 2 years ago | (#39520967)

Does it really matter? In the end, they are just going to raise the data-only plans if people are switching away from POTS/ISDN (which I personally think of as a shame, because circuit-switched networks still beat IP when it comes to QoS for voice communication)

Atlas Shrugged? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521003)

Atlas Shrugged?......anyone?

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