European mobile operator to charge extra for VoIP

Network neutrality has been something of a contentious issue in recent years. The concept that all data are equal when it comes to the availability and distribution of content – based on the simple idea that one byte is no different from another – is one that campaigners have been trying to etch into the consciousness of network operators, legislators and consumers alike.

The operators aren’t entirely sympathetic to this argument; they’ve been enjoying things a certain way for a long time - for example, with unrealistically high charges for SMS text messaging, the true cost of which is a tiny fraction of the amount that they charge per message. The advent of VoIP calling services, such as Microsoft Skype, and instant messaging services – which treat calls and messages as just bits and bytes of data over a network – represent a clear threat to the revenue streams that operators have enjoyed for so long.

So perhaps it’s not entirely surprising that some carriers are panicking in the face of this threat, in an effort to try to safeguard their incomes in new ways. The European mobile operator TeliaSonera is one such example, as it will shortly introduce surcharges for customers using VoIP services over its network. TeliaSonera is Europe’s fifth largest telecommunications provider, with 157 million subscribers in numerous markets including Scandinavia, Russia, Spain and Turkey.

Disregarding the net neutrality tenet of no data being more equal than others, the carrier will first introduce the new charges in Spain on its Yoigo network in Q2 2012, before bringing them to the Telia network in Sweden in the following months.

The Next Web noted comments made by the group’s CEO, Lars Nyberg, in its quarterly report, in which he stated that the company has been completely open and upfront about its plans: “We have been early in introducing tiered pricing of data, lower costs for data roaming and recently openly communicated that we will start to charge for mobile VoIP,” he said.

The company report also explained that its customers “will have the opportunity to either choose a subscription which includes mobile VoIP or one without. When the need arises, this service can then be bought separately.”

Nyberg’s justification for introducing these charges – cited by The Wall Street Journal – will no doubt be shared, though perhaps not quite so publicly, by network operators around the globe. He said: “If all our customers suddenly decided to switch over to making internet calls, and we charged them only for the data traffic usage, we would lose about 70% of our revenue.”

But perhaps that’s the ultimate consequence of operating in a free market economy: sometimes the market dictates where you go next - and resisting that natural change, in an effort to force the good ol’ days to last forever, rarely ends well.

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19 Comments

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Isn't Vodafone doing the same already? At least in Spain you have a "cheap unlimited" data plan for about 15€, but it doesn't include VoIP. If you make a noticeable use of that you are automatically charged with the price of the more expensive plan that does include VoIP (somewhere between 30 and 40€).

It's just in Spain. In Portugal there is no such thing as voip plan, not for consumers at least. Voip traffic is blocked or heavly downgraded.

No problems here with Skype on TMN carrier, as well with Vodafone.


dresende said,
It's just in Spain. In Portugal there is no such thing as voip plan, not for consumers at least. Voip traffic is blocked or heavly downgraded.

So how do they know that you're using VOIP specifically? Do they analyze each data packet transmitted to see if it contains voice data?

It won't matter too much anyway as the UK market is still plaugued by the internet caps on tarriffs (although some are now coming back to their senses).
VOIP = data usage.
If I'm using my home network, I'll just log on to my PC and use Skype.

Will they charge to call to regular phone or mobile number or even if person is using VOIP to call to the computer, like computer to computer

bbfc_uk said,
Who? I thought you said one of Europe's largest networks? I was thinking of Orange or Vodafone.

You obiously have no idea of what happens in the world you live in. Europe is not just the UK. Telia is the biggest network operator (internet, mobile, ...) in Europe. They are a tier 1 ISP, and operate in many countries, just not always under their own name.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T...ork#List_of_tier_1_networks

Ambroos said,

You obiously have no idea of what happens in the world you live in. Europe is not just the UK. Telia is the biggest network operator (internet, mobile, ...) in Europe. They are a tier 1 ISP, and operate in many countries, just not always under their own name.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T...ork#List_of_tier_1_networks

The story does actually say european mobile operator, and does say carrier.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L...of_mobile_network_operators 2nd largest in the world. Vodafone, uk based with 439m subscribers, 3rd is india's Airtel with 43m.

ISP does not equate to mobile operator size. For Tier 1 networks, Bits are bits. They don't lose any money from having internet calls rather then gsm calls being made. Infact, they'd make money from the bandwidth being sold.

Have we heard this before?
The whole *whimper* deal sounds like the way music industry was whimpering years ago!
Telecom next to fail?

For me its looks like one more time then consumer
Have to be veri disapointed such type ideas in business if my provider wil do the same I will go for other provider

GiedriusVarnas said,
For me its looks like one more time then consumer
Have to be veri disapointed such type ideas in business if my provider wil do the same I will go for other provider

Yes.

They cannot do this in the Netherlands since recently the Dutch parliament passed a law (despite the fact that the leading party of the coalition apposed it). The law says the operators cannot charge extra for the data because it is VOIP or a text message in nature.

Secondly, TeliaSonera has shares in TurkCell (Turkey's biggest mobile operator) however they don't control it.