Why we need net neutrality: TeliaSonera to charge mobile users for VoIP calls

by: AdrianApril 23, 2012
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Network neutrality, also known as net neutrality or Internet neutrality, has been an intensely debated issue in the media over the last few years. For those of you who haven’t heard about the concept, net neutrality opposes the restriction by ISPs or governments of the consumers’ free access to the Internet.

In other words, a network neutrality law would prevent your Internet provider from charging you extra for accessing, say, YouTube, than it would charge you for visiting Facebook or some other random site. As the image above says, all bits are (or should be) created equal.

Unfortunately, net neutrality has not been enforced in law form in most parts of the world, at least as far as we here at Android Authority know. This means that, at least in theory, an Internet provider can decide at any moment to throttle access to specific websites or charge users extra for the “privilege” of accessing a specific Internet destination.

If you thought that no Internet provider or carrier would dare to ignore the principles of net neutrality, we have some bad news for you today. TeliaSonera, one of the largest carriers in Europe, has decided to charge its Spanish users extra for using Skype and other VoIP (Voice over IP) services, starting from next month.

“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.” announced Lars Nyberg, the company’s CEO, taking pretty much the whole world by surprise.

TeliaSonera’s decision will affect its customers first and foremost, but, in the long haul, it could create a dangerous precedent that can potentially affect mobile customers from all over the world. Just think about the ripples this move will create when carriers worldwide realize that they can get away with charging for VoIP calls!

The “mobile VoIP offer” will be launched in Spain next month, while Swedish mobile users should prepare to pay extra for VoIP services starting later this summer. “The 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”,  explained Nyberg.

TeliaSonera’s CEO also explained the “reasons” that led to this change, saying that “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.” So, if it’s all about revenue, why not charge more for data traffic usage, I might ask, without hoping to ever get an answer.

How about it, folks, do you think that we will soon see other carriers trying to enforce this policy as well? Also, would you ever consider paying extra to use VoIP on your mobile device? Hit us with a comment and let us know your opinions!

  • siwan05

    This is affecting Sweden as well, starting this summer

  • Reza Momeni1981

    Hello To whom ever is listening,
    I would like to say that i feel it is a joke to have to pay even more to use Voip. Like we don’t already get charged. it seems to me and you are right in this matter that they are just wanting to make even more money then they are already making. on to of that plans and cost of making calls are already through the roof. also i am worried about the global effects of there actions as you have mentioned.
    If possible I would be happy to sign a partition to be sent to possibly parliament to make sure a law is past to make sure that these companies don’t get away with what they are trying to do.

    • AndroidA

      You guys simply don’t get it:
      You expect ISPs to create networks and lay the foundations for Internet and phone communication, and then you complain when they are seeing their business threatened by free (global) Internet phone.. What world do you people live in?

      Of course, they will all (sooner or later) charge for VoIP calls, and that is fully justified! These companies have to generate revenue/make money to stay in business and offer the services and (heavily) rebated phones you enjoy, among other things.

      This is totally fine in my book!
      Hello… Wake up, people. There is no such thing as a ‘free lunch’ anymore! You have to pay, if you want to play!!!

      • Oliver Petruzel

        What makes VOIP data different, or more costly, than any other type of data we use? Data is data is data. The services we use and sites we visit should NOT be segregated and charged for separately. Being charged extra simply because some particular internet site or service directly competes with the carriers is a HORRIBLE precedent.

        What’s next? Separate charges for YouTube.com, Netflix, or Facebook.com if/when they’re identified as direct competition to similar services offered by the carriers themselves? That’s a scary thought…

  • Nannersby

    I was gonna make a point about free markets, capitalism, property rights, and the ability for companies to do what they want since they’re the ones investing billions into infrastructure, but AndroidA already beat me to it.

  • Vyrlokar

    As an ex-Yoigo user (The brand TeliaSonera uses to operate in Spain), I’ve been aware of this for a while. Yoigo is the cheapest of the phone operators that have their own network in Spain. They offer unlimited data (throttled after 500 MBs though) for 8€/month, with excellent rates on voice calls (no minutes included, 0.08€/min). The other “Big Three” charge at least twice as much for the same (or more often a lesser) service, and don’t allow VoIP either, not unless you take the most expensive plans, that come with loads of stuff you won’t use. Network Neutrality has never existed in the mobile world in Spain.

    Me, I’ve switched to the KPN owned Simyo, that allows VoIP, BUT charges you per MB over a basic 555 MBs (The internet is free with a minimum of 7€ spent a month on calls). However, they don’t subsidize phones, and so you need to get a GSM unlocked phone to use their services, and those cost a bunch (though more often than not, it ends up being cheaper than taking a subsidy and being bound for 18-24 months to an expensive contract)