Put Down The VoIP Phone, And Come Out With Your Hands Up

from the underground-voipers dept

It’s well known that some countries (usually with government owned telcos) are not at all enthusiastic about VoIP system undercutting their telco monopolies. We’ve heard more than a few stories about VoIP bans in some countries. However, it still is fairly impressive to find out that, in Namibia, five men have now been arrested for selling VoIP services. This certainly isn’t a first. Two years ago, someone was arrested in Belarus for daring to provide the people with cheap phone calls via VoIP. What’s amazing here is that things like VoIP and cheap phone calls are exactly the sort of thing that can help these countries better stimulate their economies — so it’s unfortunate that they’re still seeing the best course of action to be to protect their own monopolies. Take, for example, the situation in Bangladesh, where a ban on VoIP helped slow the country’s ability to build a call center industry. It’s no surprise that government monopolies don’t like to be undermined, but those governments need to start recognizing the unintended consequences of what they’re doing. Cheap phone calls have the ability to impact a large part of a small country’s economy these days.

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Comments on “Put Down The VoIP Phone, And Come Out With Your Hands Up”

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Sanguine Dream says:

Damn shame...

You would think that governments would think about the long term. Give the customers good service at a cheap price and you win loyal customer that will stick with you. But unfortunately since a politician can only be in office for so long they can’t think beyond the money they can score real fast before leaving office.

Lane Corsun says:

Re: Damn shame...

Surely someone who seems to have a quite firm grasp on politics should know most politicians dont actually search for means of monitary gain while in office. “Making” money for their campaign for election, however, is very common. Try to remember most of these cats have millions to begin with, what the situation outside of the U.S. boils down to is class. the world is seperated by those who have, and those who do not. This is bringing to, what some, may have been formerly unatainable. This is about the high class trying to maintain superiority. As far as your “economic stimulation” theory, think of the millions of workers who would be at a loss to this self-serving conglomorate. Also keep in mind….. I sell VOip.

claire rand says:

suprised? not really.

given a government run company could be ‘privatised’ with the guv as a 100% share holder, the ‘dividend’ going into the coffers etc. you get the benefits (if thats the right word) of a private company…

of course you could just offset the dividend to reduce prices, whoich would have been even better.

*every* privatised utility in the UK suffers from the following symptoms:

1, sky rocketing prices
2, chronic under investment (no change really)
3, appaling customer service
4, more ‘middle men’ to take a cut

frankly i’d rarther see some of the basics state run…

of course once you have your broadband line (via the state telco) your isp (either private or state) uses that line, if you then want to run VOIP on it.. why not?

once the telco gets into the business of just providing the line, and stops trying to fleece everyone for what they can / can’t use it for things get easier (plus you could just have flat rate billing, making billing vastly cheaper to administer).

short sighted politicos however… make a quick buck selling stuff off, make sure firends get the bulk of it and then regulate it so they can milk it.

suprised? not really. still don’t see how i can be offered the chance to ‘buy’ part of a company i already owned..

David Griffin (profile) says:

Re: suprised? not really.

I would agree that many privatised utilities in UK used to be underinvested with crappy customer service, but I think these days this only applies to
a) those given an artificial monopoly.
b) those who are just newly private incarnations of previous state companies

For example:
I have moved to Toucan for landline (I even rent my BT line from them, they buy wholesale from BT). The prices, service and general experience is so different from BT it is hard to believe.

What this highlights is that it is not the basic delivery of the actual service (which in my example above has not changed, when you look behind the scenes) but all the peripheral stuff (billing, service, ease of configuring features) that actually makes the difference. And good private companies just seem to do that better than old style state owned companies like BT. Even when they are themselves privatised.

dorpus says:

Just as well?

Do we want spammers from Belarus and Bangladesh bothering us more?

In the latest case highlighting the dangers of a global economy, Chinese officials have banned sales of Proctor & Gamble’s MaxFactor SK-2 skin cream, citing unacceptably high levels of chromium. Infuriated P&G officials said that the product, which is sold in Japan, has not caused any problems yet.

Chromium poisoning causes symptoms similar to Arsenic poisoning.


ScaredOfTheMan says:

I used to run international Toll Bypass systems to countries just like these. The local authorities were always out to get us, the lower down the scale of development the country was, the more likely it would be the police looking for you rather than just the local telco shutting you down.

Telco charges especially international ones have nothing to do with real cost of transport and everything to do with lining the pockets of the people running the telco. Those artifically high prices make good pickings for the VoIP operators.

Dam says:

The reason is simple....

Other nations are no different than the US, or in particular, Massachusetts, which I am familiar with.

If some private company can undercut the monopoly, then consumers flock to it, and the result is layoffs will happen at the monopoly.

That could be terrible for the in-laws, friends and other hacks that got their jobs through political connections.

The Man says:

Not Sure

Not sure of the political aspect of VOIP, but VOIP itself is not quite ready for prime time. I have used it with some success over a private line, but over the Internet has been spotty. Lately, I have been gettiing a call at my business by a VOIP provider trying to get me to switch my business over to their VOIP service. Funny thing is I can not understand her. Not because she is outsourced…..the word I can hear have a mid west accent. The connection is so bad that it is impossible to hold a conversation. I was able to ask if she was using her own service, which she was. I just found that very funny.

MikeR says:

Re: Not Sure

I’ve used the cable company’s version of VOIP for the past year with only one short hiccup on a Sunday morning (no service for 45 minutes).
One bill that is the same every month.
Any problems, one phone call to make, no blame game between ISP and VOIP provider.
More expensive than stand-alone VOIP provider.

Janye says:

Re: Re: Not Sure

Your lunky then MikeR, a lot of people I talked to on a daily basis had consitent issues with a VOIP service I delt tech support for. The one bill a month thing is great, but people were getting intermittent phone issues and still had to pay for the months service because right in our TOS agreement, it states it must be out for 24 hrs or more to recieve credit. However, if your phone goes out for 3 hours at 8 am and like 2 hours at 10 am, we won’t credit you.

I am glad your service works well though, I wish everyone was as lucky!

Lane Corsun says:

Re: a telco protecting it's monopoly, big surprise

Smart comment. But you have to know with free enterpise the government is not the only ones taking nasty measures. Isn’t it just as obvious, the corporate world is a nasty place also. I like what you said. But, why the condescending attitude? You seem smart enough to just make your point.

Richard P. Schmitt says:


True many third world countries try to stop VOIP because their state owned telephone companies would lose revenue. However, the telephone companies need the revenue to pay for the telephone equipment which has been sold to them by the first world countries. Many third world countries used money lent by the World Bank to build their telephone systems. Third World countries are not dumb – they need to pay their debts.

Instead of criticizing the governments, first world countries who make all the rules, should offer additional debt forgiveness.

Third World countries were sold a bill of goods which is now close to obsolete. They do not have the resources to pay old debts and adopt to the new technologies. A solution is needed. First world countries must be part of the solution.

Lane Corsun says:


I fully believe in helping others. But, why is it always suggested that we help. In a situation as medial as phone service why should we increase our already enormous deficite for many countries where only war lords, criminals and individuals on the top end of a hierarchy are the only ones prominent enough to afford these services?? Is this what you are suggesting??

Reed says:


“has been sold to them by the first world countries. Many third world countries used money lent by the World Bank to build their telephone systems. Third World countries are not dumb – they need to pay their debts.”

No, Third World countries are dumb, that’s why they took the money to begin with. Listen, the money should have been GIVEN to them not “loaned”. Often time these countries don’t even need the money and the World Bank convinces them to take a loan that they won’t be able to pay back later. Then the World Bank forgives their loan with certain comprimises. Ussually these means privatizing local utilities! So now the World Bank has wormed its way into yet another country through deciet and trickery and the people pay the price.

There so many examples of this happening! Can you guess what happens when they privatize? Yep, service turns crap and the people can’t afford to pay for it. In some African Countries these privatized water companies just start bottling their water and selling it abroad! After all the locals can’t afford it….anyone see how wrong our world has become or is it just me?

BTW First world countries will never be the solution as long as we expect something back from developing countries. One of my proffesors highlighted this when he talked about how a peanut farmer could trade for a luxury item like a car. Just how many pounds of peanuts equals one car anyways? There are no easy answers, but what we are doing now is just wrong in my opinion.

AMP says:

Re: Re: VOIP

“No, Third World countries are dumb” That is a rediculously broad and absolute statement to make.

“One of my proffesors highlighted this” I would warn agains putting too much stock ito what your professors tell you. They are a great source if information which is intended to help you FORM YOUR OWN OPINION as opposed to just parroting what you hear in class.

“a peanut farmer could trade for a luxury item like a car. Just how many pounds of peanuts equals one car anyways?” The car is worth however many peanuts the car owner deems necessary. It is clled a free market economy.

Reed says:

Re: Re: Re: Peanuts have protein!

“No, Third World countries are dumb” That is a rediculously broad and absolute statement to make.

Sorry if I offended you, but I was trying to highlight how Third World countries make stupid finacial decesions when it comes to the World Bank and loans (no I don’t think people from the third world are dumb).

“One of my proffesors highlighted this” I would warn agains putting too much stock ito what your professors tell you. They are a great source if information which is intended to help you FORM YOUR OWN OPINION as opposed to just parroting what you hear in class.

Man, do you have a problem with higher education? BTW I didn’t state HIS opinion, I just stated what he said. It was designed to make you think!

“a peanut farmer could trade for a luxury item like a car. Just how many pounds of peanuts equals one car anyways?” The car is worth however many peanuts the car owner deems necessary. It is clled a free market economy.

No, it is called peanuts do NOT equal a car and a farmer could never grow enough peanuts by himself to pay for one even though he or she may need one (Thats why I brought it up to make you THINK).

This problem is a little more complex than “free market will work” mentality. I suggest you study up on the World Bank and Global Trade if you want some real insight into how things work.

AMP says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Peanuts have protein!

1. Sorry if I offended – Wasn’t offended. It makes no difference to me what you think of third world countries. I just think that stating thrid world countries are dumb is under estimating third world countries, people have gotten into trouble doing that.

2. I like higher education, it worked out just fine for me.

3. Again, if someone owns a car and wants to trade it for something, it is up to the owner of the car and the buyer to arrive at an equitable value. If they decide that x amount of peanuts is worth trading their luxury car for, then that is the value. A peanut farmer growing enough peanuts to buy a car would depend on how many acres of crop land they have. Anytime you see a peanut farmer driving around in a car, they have basically traded their peanuts (in the form of money) for that car. The more peanuts they can grow in a year, the nicer the car they can afford.

Reed says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Peanuts have protein!

“My peanut farm grossed $700,000 last year, I own a car”

Great! Most third world peanut farmers don’t make this sort of money though. They do not produce vast amounts of peanuts and the ones they do produce are simply not enough to trade for something high-tech like a vehicle (talking about the third world here)

In order to even start talking about trading with a poor peanut farmer you have to onverinflate what their peanuts are worth, otherwise they can’t even trade with you to begin with. Trade with Third World Countries has to be inherently unfair otherwise they won’t develop. There are a lot of complex problems when it comes to trade and third world countries. You have to think outside the box to truly understand where they are coming from and what we have to do to make there economy and ultimately their lives better.

The solution certainely is NOT to allow the World Bank to take advantage of their situation, but it happens everyday.

AMP says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Peanuts have protein!

Okay, so third world peanut farms don’t do well. they have other resources such as oil, diamond mines, I hear the poppy market is booming. Whatever the regional resources are, the money can be there, it is a matter of getting that money to filter throughout their economy. The peanut thing may have been a bad analogy.

MikeT (user link) says:

The beauty of central planning...

Socialism and Fascism sure work well in practice, don’t they? We get all sorts of benefit from forcing corporations to work how the government wants or having the state own them.

I don’t understand why anyone would tolerate these abusive state monopolies. Do the good feelings of Socialism outweigh the outright “kiss our shiny, collective ass” attitude of their customer service?

Janye says:


I do not undertand why there would be a ban on the phones for the prices and not the technology. I worked for a particular VOIP company and the ammount of calls I recieved about the service being bad was amazing. A lot of the times, calls are dropped, system breaks down on its own and with no FCC regulations it may take days to get someone there.

Banning it because it breaks down the monolopy of the phone company is stupid. Shutting it down until they can better the technology isint. I have just heard too many bad thing happen with it. I know the company I worked for would shut your phone off and just provide 911 services or the ability to call us to pay your bill. Regular telephone will at least cut down on features, etc until you pay it.

Fergie (profile) says:


It is band in Dubai one fo the fastest, if not the fasest growing city/states in the world with huge amounts of cash. From oil and the building boom,but the royals (gov) still ban VoIP.
Where the average wage of the 3w worker is like 200.00-250.00 usd A MONTH FOR 12 HOURS/DAY plus living in camps, not fit for dogs. The royals say if they don’t like it they can go home, but with the wages and calling the family back home once a month which costs two days wages, how can they afford that idea.
It’s the same gov/royals only care about themselves, fuck the people even when they have built the place as in Dubai here.

lapinmalin says:

skype is blocked by universal opensource filters

unfortunately now skype blockers are using universal filters that cannot be circumvented. Such tools are widely available now for ISP, even in free opensource. check this website to see some opensource skype blocker http://www.lynanda.com/products/software-for-corporations/traffic-filtering/lynanda-skype-filter
so it might be the end of skype…

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