Vodafone is upping the stakes in their bid to strangle VoIP at birth by claiming the service is expensive to use and in an unrelated move Sky News has reported that because VoIP is difficult to monitor it poses a threat to security services in their attempts to monitor terrorist activities.
The claim that VoIP is expensive seems a little rich when you consider the cost of using Vodafone’s mobile data services and as Aaron Powers, Vice President of Business Development at Vyke Communications says, “Vodafone’s claim that VoIP is expensive and unsafe are false.”
Powers says that in their model VoIP only expensive due to Vodafone data charges and points out that 80+% of Vodafone’s revenues come from voice services and that 60+% of mobile calling minutes are made from the home or office – both locations where WiFi is prevalent.
“This means that mobile VoIP (over WiFi) threatens potentially 50% percent of Vodafone’s total minutes of use”, Powers continued.
“Mobile VoIP is only expensive if a user places a mobile VoIP call using the internet connection provided by their mobile operator (e.g., from a 3G data connection). This is because of the very high tariffs charged by mobile operators in general for mobile data services. If Vodafone, for example, claims that mobile VoIP is ‘expensive’ for the user when used via the Vodafone mobile data network, it is because Vodafone’s mobile data network charges are expensive. I hope that, like me, you appreciate the irony of Vodafone warning its customers about its own tariff structure.”
Commenting on the Sky News report Powers said, “Stating that VoIP services are unsafe and that they may be used by terrorists to avoid detection by law enforcement is, at best, irresponsible.” In Vyke’s opinion, this attempt to associate public fears over the threat of terrorism with a new and beneficial technology amounts to nothing less than ‘scare mongering’.
Sky News had reported, “Police and intelligence agencies are putting huge investment into trying to crack these sorts of communications, but the challenge is formidable.”
This must come as a surprise to VoIP operators who, like every other telecommunications company in the UK, is required to comply with the Interception of Communications Act 1985.
Vodafone’s position on VoIP is that they believe “VoIP over mobile is not yet a mature service proposition as it does not have guaranteed quality of service and security, and would fall short of the customer experience demanded of any service we launch. To ensure a solid end-to-end customer experience, this service would require in-depth testing, billing integration and customer service support which is currently not available.”
A spokesperson also informed Comms Business Magazine, “There is also a misleading perception that VoIP services are ‘free’. This is not the case when it comes to using VoIP over mobile where customers will need to use data connectivity to establish a service. By doing this, there is a risk that customers could incur unnecessary charges when competitive mobile tariffs are likely to be a more cost-effective and convenient choice. Vodafone UK has put in place offers such as Vodafone Family and Vodafone Free Weekends that allow customers to make free calls.
Lastly it’s important to note that customers can download VOIP applications if they choose to do so or can use VOIP services via a laptop and data card. If customers would like to use VOIP on their laptops while running a Vodafone Mobile Connect card and are aware of the variable quality of calls and associated costs, they are free to do so.”