It has been reported that Swedish telecoms operators are seeking to block mobile phone users in Sweden from making free calls with services like Skype.
A spokesperson of the Swedish telecommunications provider Telia told Sveriges Radio that operators have the technology to block users’ ability to use VoIP services, and that they intend to create service plans where VoIP will not work on mobile phones.
‘Voice over IP’ or VoIP are the communication protocols and transmission techniques involved in the delivery of voice communications over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the Internet.
Blocking of VoIP contrary to net neutrality
The Telia spokesperson Charlotte Züger said she believes operators need to be paid for their various services.
The Swedish companies’ plan for users to return to paid mobile phone services seems to be contrary to the European Commissions’ insistence on the importance of net neutrality, where all internet traffic is treated equally and no control over how the network is being used can be imposed.
A preliminary report on net neutrality by BEREC, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications overseeing telecoms regulation across the EU on the other hand shows that there exists a strong tendency in the European Union to block VoIP services. The blocking of VoIP is among the most frequently reported traffic management practices and is done mostly on mobile networks, usually based on specific contract terms.
A consumer transparency issue
“Whereas it is legitimate to try to raise more revenue from your end-users,” comments Aphaia’s Chief Consultant Boštjan Makarovič, “attempts to block competing applications should always be viewed with suspicion. In particular, I would question whether a tethered service offered by such providers would still qualify as the Internet. Therefore, this could as a minimum constitute a consumer transparency issue if not breach of contract with end-users. ‘Net neutrality’ requirements and possible collusion among operators deciding to limit their service are further issues to be examined.”
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