Mobile Companies May be Forced to Offer VoIP Services

(14 Apr 2009, BWCS Staff)

The EU may soon force all European mobile operators to allow VoIP services on their networks, according to reports today in the German business newspaper Handelsblatt. It appears that legislation is being prepared that will open smart phones to VoIP technology. Until now some carriers have resisted the drive towards allowing VoIP, arguing that it would harm their voice call business. The EU is concerned that this is hampering the ability of consumers to get connected to VoIP services on their mobile phones.

At the moment, it is up to individual member states to decide which internet services should run on mobile networks. However, the EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding claimed recently that "action" should be taken against carriers that use their large market share to "block innovative services."

VoIP services enable consumers to make calls at much cheaper rates than those currently charged by cellular operators, especially if the calls are abroad. Naturally the larger European mobile carriers see the technology as a threat to their profit margins and many have banned VoIP from being used on their networks.

At the end of March, this year, Skype, the e-Bay-owned internet telephone company, launched a VoIP service on Apple's iconic mobile device, the iPhone. The application, which is initially only available to iPhone owners in the UK, allows users to place calls and use Skype's IM service. Skype has also produced the so-called Skype-lite application for use on other mobile devices. The iPhone application offers free calls to other Skype users, of whom there are 450 million, via a WiFi connection. Calls to other phone lines can be made using the Skype Out service, which they have to pay for.

Apple allows network operators very little choice as to what runs on the Apple iPhones and what does not, which could mean that O2, the UK seller of iPhones, had little choice but to accept the feature.


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