VOIP blocking at Israeli Cellular Operators?


An interesting story has been concerning all smartphone users in Israel at the latest weeks. Although this is currently our concern, I quite believe it is a subject of concern in the whole world, and I would like to comment it here.

 

The story is simple: the Israeli Ministry of Communications has provided a license for the first Israeli operator of VOIP over cellular data. This company is to operate like an MVNO cellular operator; their customers are supposed to be data customers of other cellular operators, using their data accounts to do VOIP and SMS-over-data activities.

 

From the Ministry of Communications point-of-view, it was very simple to give this license to Free Telecom (http://www.free.net.il/). I will explain. When they conceded the license to the cellular operators in the past, those had to connect their antennas to their centers through regular landlines from the Israeli landline operator. They feared the operator would block their communication, and required  from the Min.of Comm. to include in the license of the landline operator a commitment to keep the network neutral and not block any kind of communication. The requirement was accepted by the Min. of Comm. with one condition: that they would sign-up for the same commitment. And so they did.

 

Now, around 10 years later, the Min. of Comm. activates this commitment and authorizes a VOIP over data operator. Some weeks after that, Cellcom, the largest operator around here, decides to take action. Since they cannot block VOIP ports on the network due to their original commitment, they take a very sophisticated action: for users of the router and modem plans, they reduce the quality-of-service at the upstream to a level where 25% of the packages are lost, meaning that it is impossible to carry a quality VOIP conversation on these accounts. The thing is discovered by a newspaper, which makes a series of articles and benchmarks, Cellcom is required by the Min. of Comm. to open the network, but it seems that until now nothing is happening.

 

From the operator point of view, they are doing nothing illegal, just maintaining their network.

 

From the Min. of Comm. point of view, there is an urgent need to protect an operator which is operating under license in the country.

 

From the user point of view: I have paid a lot of money for my data account, shouldn't I be able to use it in any way I want and with all applications available?

 

And the last point of view: when will WiMax finally be available to finish with all this?

 

So, does this happen all around the world, or is this a local concern? I will be happy to hear your comments. If you don't have an account in the site, you can open a user for yourself and then you will see the comment link.