QuickLinks - Voice over IP
QuickLinks - Voice over IP
Voice over IP
Open a new window when I click a link
Issue no. 411 - 3 October 2010
Google Voice: Race to the Bottom for Telephony - or Something Else?
by Jon Arnold. Just when you thought making phone calls couldn't get any cheaper, along comes news from Google about their latest iteration of Google Voice. There have been several steps along the way for Google to get to this point, and there are a host of reasons why this news is of interest to service providers of all stripes. I often write about how certain technologies and disruptive forces change the business of being a service provider, and this is but the latest example.
Issue no. 407 - 28 March 2010
EG - Skype questions Egypt ban on mobile Internet calls
Internet telephony firm Skype has questioned Egypt's move to ban international calls made through mobile Internet connections and said markets should be left open for consumers to choose. National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority head Amr Badawy told Reuters earlier this month it will ban international calls through mobile Internet connections. The ban applies to Egypt's three mobile operators - Mobinil, Etisalat Egypt and Vodafone Egypt - offering Internet access for computers via USB and other mobile modems, as well as mobile handsets. It does not apply to fixed lines. Egyptian law requires international calls to pass through a network of state-controlled, fixed-line monopoly Telecom Egypt.
Issue no. 406 - 21 February 2010
Skype in a Struggle to Be Heard on Mobile Phones
(New York Times)
In a world where network neutrality has become a rallying cry for advocates of an unfettered Internet, Skype, the pioneer in low-cost and even free online calls, has become a prime example of the limits of wireless freedom. In the United States, Skype is blocked on mobile networks, and the service is available only on the Apple iPhone over Wi-Fi. In Europe, Skype is carried by the company 3 in Britain, Ireland, Austria, Denmark, Italy and Sweden. But many other cellular operators still block its calls, prohibit their customers from downloading Skype's software or outlaw the use of VoIP service in standard sales contracts. Most operators and network equipment makers still perceive Skype and other Internet phone call providers to be potential freeloaders, stealing their customers while they invest billions of dollars to build out and upgrade mobile networks.
Issue no. 401 - 26 July 2009
EU battles industry plans to restrict Skype on mobile phones
The European Commission is threatening to brandish the new roaming regulation or antitrust rules in order to block plans by major EU telecoms operators to restrict the use of Internet calling services like Skype via their mobile networks.
Replying to a written question
by a Socialist MEP, Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding made clear that the new roaming regulation, which entered into force at the beginning of July, is also aimed at avoiding any discrimination between technologies.
Issue no. 362 - 11 June 2006
Internet Phones: Please Wait for the Next Available Opportunity
(New York Times)
When eBay decided ago to acquire Skype Technologies, the Luxembourg-based wunderkind that offers free Internet calls around the world, it seemed that free or nearly free Internet telephony would soon reach every American den, and no one would have to sign up for a separate phone service with the cable company. The happy day of free calls will not arrive, however, until existing phones are replaced or adapted to plug into the Internet.
Issue no. 361 - 23 May 2006
UK - Regulating VoIP: industry responds
A trade body for the UK's internet telephony market has urged Ofcom to resist imposing excessive regulation on the fledgling industry. If regulations are imposed, they must be enforceable on overseas rivals, says the group. The comments, from the Internet Telephony Service Providers' Association (ITSPA), were made in response to the telecoms watchdog's February consultation on regulating the market for Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, services, in the UK.
Issue no. 360 - 14 May 2006
UK - Sainsbury's hypes Skype
VoIP provider Skype has begun selling credit vouchers at Sainsbury's supermarkets across the UK. The tie-up could be a turning point in bringing VoIP to a mass market, but some doubt whether the general public is willing to boot up a PC to make phone calls.
Issue no. 354 - 31 January 2006
OECD - VoIP - Developments in the Market
The growing importance of VoIP services is reflected in the regulatory debate at both the national and international level among OECD countries. There are a range of issues that need to be addressed surrounding the issue of whether traditional regulations should or should not apply to VoIP services. They include classification of the application/service, interconnection, possible market entry barriers, numbering, universal service issues, customer protection, privacy protection, emergency call capabilities, law enforcement issues, and technical safeguards (e.g. solutions for possible low quality of sound). See
Issue no. 351 - 11 December 2005
BT and Yahoo unveil Skype killers
BT has announced plans to undercut Skype prices on its own VoIP service, and will launch a new service combining its two existing VoIP offerings. The telecoms giant claimed that it will undercut Skype on 50 of the most popular international calling destinations. Meanwhile Yahoo has announced that it will also undercut Skype by charging just one to two cents a minute in 180 countries. The new version of Yahoo Messenger for text, voice and video communications will be introduced in the next few days. It will include 'Phone Out', offering low per-minute charges for calls from computers to phones, and 'Phone In', offering a low-cost subscription service for phone calls to computer users."
Issue no. 344 - 18 September 2005
CN - China Telecom to block Internet telephony providers like Skype
China Telecom, the nation's biggest fixed-line telephony provider, is working to shut down computer-to-telephone call services, to force people to pay for its much more expensive offering, state press said. China Telecom is presently experimenting with blocking computer-to-telephone and computer-to-computer services in the major urban centers of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
Portal bid drives eBay Skype deal
At first glance, auction giant eBay and net phone firm Skype seem to have little in common apart from the fact that both do almost all of their business online. eBay is a giant marketplace used by more than 100 million people to buy and sell all manner of things to each other. In comparison, Skype has about 53 million users who make cheap phone calls via the service that relies on the net to carry the conversations. Certainly, many analysts have questioned why eBay splashed out $2.6bn (£1.4bn) to buy Skype.
The meaning of free speech
The acquisition by eBay of Skype is a helpful reminder to the world's trillion-dollar telecoms industry that all phone calls will eventually be free. It is altogether wrong to call this phenomenon the end, or death, of telephony. "Calling it the death of telephony suggests people aren't going to make calls, but they are," says Sam Paltridge, a telecoms guru at the OECD."It's just the death of the traditional pricing models" In short, all this is great news for consumers and awful news for telecoms operators.
Issue no. 343 - 4 September 2005
Internet calling gets wider reception
(New York Times)
Start-up companies like Skype and Vonage using VOIP, or voice-over-Internet protocol, technology are offering cheap long-distance rates and features not found with conventional phone service. Cable and traditional phone companies around the world, too, are taking Internet phones to the masses. Lately, a subset of VOIP services, called PC-to-phone service, has been gaining momentum. With these services, users can make calls to, and receive calls from, regular phones on their personal computers as long they have a broadband connection, VOIP software downloaded from the Web and a headset.
Issue no. 331 - 13 February 2005
EU - Regulators favour pro-competitive approach to Internet telephony
"Voice over Internet Protocol has the potential to radically change the existing market structure": this has been stressed by the European Regulators Group (ERG), which brings together the 25 national regulatory authorities responsible for electronic communication markets. Meeting in Brussels, the ERG adopted a common statement on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services in order to facilitate the roll out and widespread use of Internet telephony in Europe. The European Commission itself favours an EU-wide "light touch" approach to Internet telephony as the best way to encourage competition between internet carriers of telephone traffic and traditional telephone networks.
Issue no. 319 - 14 September 2004
In Internet calling, Skype lives up to hype
(New York Times)
How big a deal will Skype turn out to be? I have no idea whether the company itself, which was founded one year ago, will someday come to epitomize and dominate a particular booming business, the way Google, eBay and Amazon now do. But I feel confident that the service it provides will be attractive to most people who give it a serious look. Skype is the most popular and sexiest application of VoIP, voice over Internet protocol. Essentially, it is a way of allowing a computer with a broadband connection to serve as a telephone. This new form of conveying voice messages has so many advantages over traditional systems that the whole telecommunications industry is scrambling to shift traffic onto the Internet.
UK - Net calls get their own area code
In the UK the telephone area code for cyberspace will be 056. Regulator Ofcom has picked the prefix for customers who sign up to make calls via the internet. Users can also opt for geographic numbers. The decision on numbers comes as Ofcom reveals how it plans to regulate services that use the net rather than the old fashioned telephone network. Ofcom says it will use a light touch when regulating voice over net services to help the new market flourish.
Issue no. 313 - 13 June 2004
UK - BT transforms phone network
BT is planning to rebuild its phone network in the UK in a radical move that will cost billions. It could change the way people use their phones and allow most people with a BT phone line to plug into broadband using computers, mobiles or other devices. It could also mean that mobiles and fixed lines become interchangeable, with the same number and bill. BT plans to convert the majority of its customers to the new network by 2009. The technical work requires a gradual closing down of the old Public Switched Telephone network (PSTN) to make way for an internet protocol (IP) network.
Issue no. 311 - 31 May 2004
UK - Gossiptel internet calls give BT a new headache
BT faces a fresh challenge to its share of the residential phone market with the launch of a new company, which makes use of the internet to offer cut-price local, national, international and mobile calls for no monthly line rental.
UK - Voice over Broadband
Ofcom is undertaking a range of work relating to regulatory policy for Voice over IP and Voice over Broadband services. This page contains links to the material Ofcom has published on this subject. see also
Questions and Answers
Issue no. 302 - 15 February 2004
US - FCC Considers Regulating Internet-Based Phone Calls
The Federal Communications Commission began formally considering regulation of Internet-based phone calls. Internet traffic, unlike voice traffic, is not regulated. A majority of the commissioners said they favor minimal regulation and that the new technology should be allowed to flourish and enhance competition in the local phone markets.
Issue no. 298 - 18 January 2004
US - FCC cautious on Voice-over-Internet regulation
Rapidly expanding voice communications over the Internet should be protected from excessive government regulation and from being pigeonholed as simple phone service, the Federal Communications Commission chairman said. Michael Powell, speaking at the huge Consumer Electronics Show here, said the commission needs to do more work in 2004 on promoting and expanding high-speed communications over the Internet, which he said is crucial to the economy's future. Powell was most vocal about the technology known as voice over Internet protocol, or VoIP. Companies like privately held Vonage and Skype have seen rapid growth in recent months as people embrace low-cost -- even free -- voice communications online with quality comparable to traditional phone service.
US - A Bright New Day for the Telecom Industry, if the Public Will Go Along
(New York Times)
When executives from Verizon Communications and Nortel Networks uncorked the champagne, they were celebrating much more than a new equipment contract. By granting Nortel an exclusive 18-month deal to supply the equipment that sends phone calls as digital data like that used over the Internet, Verizon, the nation's biggest phone company, had given a huge lift to a technology known as voice over Internet protocol, or VoIP, that some industry executives say could be the most important development in public telecommunications networks since analog switches made way for digital equipment two decades ago.
Issue no. 295 - 21 December 2003
Phone calls via Internet: the ins and outs
VOIP, or voice over Internet protocol, is becoming more and more mainstream, but that doesn't mean it is a mass medium ready for you and your mother to use. The technology is simple: Instead of sending voice phone calls over regular, dedicated phone lines, VOIP sends our voices over the same pathways that e-mail and other data take over the Internet. VOIP's biggest advantage is cost. Its biggest disadvantage is that it's not as good or reliable as what the business affectionately calls POTS, for "plain old telephone service.
Issue no. 294 - 14 December 2003
Making calls over the Net
Until the last few years, voice over Internet protocol, or VoIP, phone service was illegal in many developing markets, including Greece. During the past few years, the relationship between VoIP providers and government regulators has slowly warmed. Deregulation and a more passive, if still vague, stance by telecom watchdogs have reduced the circumstances in which running a VoIP service was akin to running opium and guns. In a report, the research firm Ovum concluded that the VoIP market had fewer than 200,000 users worldwide and fewer than 20,000 in Europe. Obviously VoIP is not yet a real challenger to what is sometimes referred to as POTS, or plain old telephone service.
UK - BT pokes toe into VoIP market
The first UK mass-market service to encourage users to send voice calls over the Internet is an aggressive move by BT against its cable rivals. BT has become the first UK telco to offer a mass-market consumer voice over IP (VoIP) service. Its Broadband Voice package is primarily targeted at NTL and Telewest customers but will work just as well with an ADSL connection. BT says that it is a ground-breaking product that will let cable customers save money on voice calls, but rivals have dismissed Broadband Voice as little more than a second phone line.
US - AT&T joins battle over Internet calling
(New York Times)
The battle over the future of U.S. telephone service intensified with an announcement from AT&T that it would offer unlimited long-distance and local calling using Internet technology, at a lower cost than conventional phone service. The move follows similar announcements from Time Warner Cable that it would provide phone service to many of its cable television customers with access to high-speed Internet connections and by BT Group of Britain of its own plan to offer such a service.
Issue no. 291 - 15 November 2003
Operator calls time - voice over IP
Much cheaper telephone calls, cool added services and numbers that can follow you around, no matter where you are in the world. Technology called voice over IP (VoIP) can give us all of this, and after seven years in development, it's about to hit the mainstream.
Issue no. 249 - 10 November 2002
Panama begins blocking IP ports
(Linux and Main)
In an apparent attempt to stem telephone company revenue losses due to Internet telephony, the government of Panama has
that 24 UDP ports be blocked by all Internet service providers. The ports include ones that are commonly used for voice over IP as well as some that are used for other purposes, apparently with the idea that these, too, could be used to circumvent the POTS (plain old telephone system) in making telephone calls.
Issue no. 203 - 19 July 2001
Backlash To Greet Philippine Ruling On VoIP
(Metropolitan Computer Times)
A flurry of criticism is expected to deluge the Philippine National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) after a recent ruling that will limit voice-over-IP (VoIP) on PCs and disallow the use of phones to receive calls made through the Internet.
Issue no. 190 - 12 March 2001
Internet telephony encouraged
Developing countries will be urged to embrace rather than restrict the new internet telephony technologies at a policy forum hosted by the International Telecommunication Union in Geneva.
Issue no. 185 - 27 January 2001
Web phones take bite out of big-name carriers
Internet telephony, also known as Voice over Internet Protocol, is expected to have hit $266m in revenues worldwide in 2000, up more than fourfold from 1999
Issue no. 183 - 14 January 2001
EU - EC maintains regulatory stance on VoIP
The European Commission has decided that in spite of "significant technological changes" since 1998 in the field of voice on the Internet, this activity still could not be defined as voice telephony and thus should not be covered by the regulatory regime applying to the latter. see
Commission publishes voice on Internet communication
Issue no. 163 - 9 July 2000
Millions Phoning Online, Finding Price Is Right Even if Quality Isn't
(New York Times)
The quality still has a way to go, but much of the growing interest in so-called Internet telephony has to do with its relative simplicity. Most users need only an Internet hookup, headphones and a microphone plugged into a computer.
Issue no. 162 - 2 July 2000
EU - Review of status of voice on the Internet
Official Journal C 177 of 27/6/2000: Consultative communication on a review of the 1998 notice by the Commission on the status of voice on the Internet under Community law, and in particular, under Directive 90/388/EEC Supplement to the Communication by the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the status and implementation of Directive 90/388/EEC on competition in the markets for telecommunications services
Issue no. 137 - 18 December 1999
Thus makes breakthrough in online calls
Thus, formerly Scottish Telecom, has become the first company in Europe to implement a new technology that will enable it to offer full voice communications over the internet.
Links to news items about legal and regulatory aspects of Internet and the information society, particularly those relating to information content, and market and technology.
QuickLinks consists of
a free newsletter appearing approximately every two to three weeks. The newsletter is distributed by electronic mail through an "announcement only" mailing list.
a Web site with frequent updates, an events page, news items organised by category as well as chronologically by issue and full text search.
QuickLinks is edited by Richard Swetenham
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Licence