VoIP banning threat removed, but…

You may not be facing network banning or face being billed R25 per MB for VoIP traffic, but this may change

By - May 2, 2012

MTN and Vodacom said that users are allowed to use voice over IP (VoIP) services on their networks, but that they reserve the right to change this in future.

MTN previously warned that its mobile broadband network may not be used to transfer or generate Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) traffic. The company further warned subscribers that VoIP traffic may be charged at R25 per megabyte (MB).

The MTN terms and conditions stated that “the MTN GPRS, GPRS+, EDGE or 3G technologies may not be used to transfer or generate Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) traffic”.

MTN however clarified the situation, explaining that these were their old Terms and Conditions (T&C) and that their subscribers are free to use VoIP services on their mobile data network.

“MTN does not block VoIP over our network. There are a number of MTN customers who do use VoIP services over our network and are charged at normal data rates,” said Mapula Bodibe, MTN’s general manager for consumer segments.

Vodacom also confirmed that their subscribers may use VoIP services on their data network without any fear of higher data prices or facing the risk of having their service discontinued.

Things may change

The risk that affordable mobile VoIP services hold for mobile operators means that Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and 8ta do not want to discount the option of charging higher rates for VoIP traffic.

MTN said that while they have no immediate plans to cut off any of its customers who use VoIP services on its network or charge higher rates for VoIP traffic, it reserves the right to change the terms and conditions of any of its products and services should this be deemed necessary.

Vodacom said that they will never cut off subscribers who use VoIP services, but added that high quality VoIP services may come at a price in future.

“VoIP quality is inherently variable as it competes with other traffic and cannot always keep up – hence the breaks in conversation. We envision a future approach whereby VoIP traffic is prioritised to ensure a decent service, and that a premium would be charged for this. This is more likely to happen once LTE is up and running,” said Vodacom spokesperson Richard Boorman.

Telkom Mobile’s senior managing executive Amith Maharaj said that 8ta allows subscribers to use VoIP services on their data packages, but warned that this can change.

“As per 8.ta’s standard terms and conditions 8.ta reserves the right to withdraw at anytime for any reason on reasonable notice to the subscriber when services are being abused by the subscriber,” said Maharaj.

Cell C did not comment on whether they plan to cut subscribers who use VoIP services on their data network, or whether users are (or can be) billed at a higher rate for VoIP traffic.

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