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Ed Vaizey Reschedules Net Neutrality Meet as ITSPA Slams Mobile VoIP Blocks

Posted: 26th Jan, 2012 By: MarkJ
3g mobile broadbandinternet networkThe Internet Telephony Services Providers' Association (ITSPA), a UK trade body for the VoIP industry, representing network operators and service providers, has released a new review that slams three of the country's five Mobile Network Operators (MNO) for using Terms and Conditions (T&C's) that "prohibit the use of VoIP and other streaming services in a substantial number of their tariffs".

ITSPA's review - 'VoIP and Mobile Network Operators' - highlights Vodafone , T-Mobile and Orange as being the worst offenders. However the group was still able to make successful over-the-top VoIP (e.g. Google Voice, Skype) calls on almost all UK networks, once the right package was found, with the exception of T-Mobile.

ITSPA Review Statement

"In most cases MNOs are not transparent about their policies towards VoIP over mobile data. A typical customer of a typical MNO would not be aware, when purchasing a plan via the MNO website, whether VoIP was allowed or blocked. (Vodafone are an exception, providing very clear information.) Some information is wrong or misleading.

More generally customers would need to be well informed (for example understanding that they should search ‘Traffic Management’) in order to discover the policy of most MNOs towards VoIP. Market forces cannot be assumed to work if the market is not properly informed."

The review further concluded that it was "reasonable" for customers buying Mobile Broadband / Smartphone data bundles to "expect to be able to use them for low speed (<100kbps) streaming services", at least unless they are "clearly excluded" at point of sale.

In reality many mobile operators are keen to defend their lucrative voice calls and as a result Skype is often seen as a rival. On the other hand.. Skype isn't a data hog like video streaming but it can still gobble up capacity over longer periods of use.

uk_mobile_operator_voip_support.gif

The issue, which was picked up by Timico's CTO Trefor Davies, slips rather neatly into the tricky debate around Net Neutrality (the principal of treating all internet traffic as equal) and whether or not the UK / EU governments need to impose tougher regulation to ensure non-discrimination.

In relation to that the UK government's Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey, has just had to reschedule this week's Net Neutrality Roundtable meeting with ISPs and MNOs for 28th March 2012. Apparently operators were expected to produce a related Voluntary Code of Practice at the meeting but it's not quite ready yet (example).
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