Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Are you happy with your mobile operator on VoIP?

Mobile operators blocking Skype and other internet voice calling (VoIP) apps could cause more than 18 million British mobile phone users to switch networks.

In a survey by Rebtel up to 60 per cent of mobile phone users said they were prepared to switch networks if so-called 'over the top' applications, such as those which make VoIP calls, are interrupted. The poll said only 8 per cent believed operators had the right to stop users from accessing VoIP on their phones.

Several mobile networks in the UK currently take steps to prevent access to VoIP services. Now, you make take a jaundiced view about Rebtel’s findings given their business model. However, a report from BEREC, the European telecoms regulators' body, claims that at least 20 per cent of mobile Internet users in Europe experience some form of restriction on their ability to access VoIP services.

The BEREC report was compiled in a joint investigation with the European Commission, and was largely based on data submitted by 32 regulators, 266 fixed and 115 mobile operators. A questionnaire asked operators and regulators what traffic management techniques and practices are being applied currently.

The most frequently reported restrictions are the blocking and/or throttling of peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic, on both fixed and mobile networks, and the blocking of Voice over IP (VoIP) traffic, mostly on mobile networks.

As regards P2P, some level of restriction is reported by 49 operators (out of 266) on fixed networks and by 41 operators (out of 115) on mobile networks. As regards VoIP, some level of restriction is reported by 28 operators (out of 115) on mobile networks. Each of these types of restrictions affects at least 20 per cent of subscribers.

A number of cases of operators giving preferential treatment to specific types of over-the-top traffic were also found (e.g. prioritising streaming and other real-time applications, HTTP, etc.)

Some examples of special treatment for over-the-top traffic reported by fixed operators are prioritisation of certain kind of traffic or applications at peak times (such as HTTP, DNS, VoIP, gaming, instant messaging, etc.), and assigning lower priority to applications such as file downloading, P2P, etc.

What’s been your experience? Have you ever been denied service when using VoIP?

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