Legal issues in different countries

As the popularity of VoIP grows, and PSTN users switch to VoIP in increasing numbers, governments are becoming more interested in regulating VoIP in a manner similar to legacy PSTN services, especially with the encouragement of the state-mandated telephone monopolies/oligopolies in a given country, who see this as a way to stifle the new competition.

In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission now requires all VoIP operators who do not support Enhanced 911 to attach a sticker warning that traditional 911 services aren't available. The FCC recently required VoIP operators to support CALEA wiretap functionality. The Telecommunications Act of 2005 proposes adding more traditional PSTN regulations, such as local number portability and universal service fees. Other future legal issues are likely to include laws against wiretapping and network neutrality.

Some Latin American and Caribbean countries, fearful for their state owned telephone services, have imposed restrictions on the use of VoIP, including in Panama where VoIP is taxed. In Ethiopia, where the government is monopolizing telecommunication service, it is a criminal offense to offer services using VoIP. The country has installed firewalls to prevent international calls being made using VoIP. These measures were taken after a popularity in VoIP reduced the income generated by the state owned telecommunication company.

In the European Union, the treatment of VoIP service providers is a decision for each Member State's national telecoms regulator, which must use competition law to define relevant national markets and then determine whether any service provider on those national markets has "significant market power" (and so should be subject to certain obligations). A general distinction is usually made between VoIP services that function over managed networks (via broadband connections) and VoIP services that function over unmanaged networks (essentially, the Internet).

VoIP services that function over managed networks are often considered to be a viable substitute for PSTN telephone services (despite the problems of power outages and lack of geographical information); as a result, major operators that provide these services (in practice, incumbent operators) may find themselves bound by obligations of price control or accounting separation.

VoIP services that function over unmanaged networks are often considered to be too poor in quality to be a viable substitute for PSTN services; as a result, they may be provided without any specific obligations, even if a service provider has "significant market power".

The relevant EU Directive is not clearly drafted concerning obligations which can exist independently of market power (e.g., the obligation to offer access to emergency calls), and it is impossible to say definitively whether VoIP service providers of either type are bound by them. A review of the EU Directive is under way and should be complete by 2007.

In India, it is legal to use VoIP, but it is illegal to have VoIP gateways inside India. This effectively means that people who have PCs can use them to make a VoIP call to any number, but if the remote side is a normal phone, the gateway that converts the VoIP call to a POTS call should not be inside India.

In the UAE, it is illegal to use any form of VoIP, to the extent that websites of Skype and Gizmo Project don't work.

In the Republic of Korea, only providers registered with the government are authorized to offer VoIP services. Unlike many VoIP providers, most of whom offer flat rates, Korean VoIP services are generally metered and charged at rates similar to terrestrial calling. Foreign VoIP providers such as Vonage encounter high barriers to government registration. This issue came to a head in 2006 when internet service providers providing personal internet services by contract to United States Forces Korea members residing on USFK bases threatened to block off access to VoIP services used by USFK members of as an economical way to keep in contact with their families in the United States, on the grounds that the service members' VoIP providers were not registered. A compromise was reached between USFK and Korean telecommunications officials in January 2007, wherein USFK service members arriving in Korea before June 1, 2007 and subscribing to the ISP services provided on base may continue to use their U.S.-based VoIP subscription, but later arrivals must use a Korean-based VoIP provider, which by contract will offer pricing similar to the flat rates offered by U.S. VoIP providers.

IP telephony in Japan

In Japan, IP telephony (IP?? IP Denwa ?) is regarded as a service applied VoIP technology to whole or a part of the telephone line. As from 2003, IP telephony service assigned telephone numbers has been provided. There are not voice only services, but also videophone service. According to the Telecommunication Business Law, the service category for IP telephony also implies the service provided via Internet, which is not assigned any telephone number. IP telephony is basically regulated by Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), as a telecommunication service. The operators have to disclose necessary information on its quality, etc, prior to making contract with customers, and have obligation to respond to their complaints cordially.

Many Internet service providers (ISP) are providing IP telephony services. The provider, which provides IP telephony service, is so-called "ITSP (Internet Telephony Service Provider)". Recently, the competition among ITSPs has been activated, by option or set sales, connected with ADSL or FTTH services.

The tariff system normally applied for Japanese IP telephony tends to be described as below; The call between IP telephony subscribers, limited to the same group, is mostly free of charge. The call from IP telephony subscribers to fixed line or PHS is mostly fixed rate, uniformly, all over the country.

Between ITSP, the interconnection is mostly maintained at VoIP level. As for the IP telephony assigned normal telephone number (0AB-J), the condition for its interconnection is considered same as normal telephony. As for the IP telephony assigned specific telephone number (050), the condition for its interconnection tends to be described as below; Interconnection is sometimes charged. (Sometimes, it's free of charge.) In case of free of charge, mostly, the traffics are exchanged via P2P connection with the same VoIP standard. Otherwise, certain conversion is needed at the point of VoIP gateway, which needs running costs.

Telephone number for IP telephony in Japan

Since September 2002, the MIC has assigned IP telephony telephone numbers on the condition that the service falls into certain required categories of quality. Highly qualified IP telephony is assigned a telephone number. Normally the number starts with 050. But, when its quality is so high that customer almost could not tell the difference between it and a normal telephone and when the provider relates its number with a location and provides the connection with emergency call capabilities, the provider is allowed to assign a normal telephone number, which is a so-called "0AB-J" number.



 
 
 
 
Voice over IP
  essay writer . term papers . buy essay . dissertation writing services