Thursday, December 14, 2006

United States Trade Representative Urged to Support Global Access for VoIP

The Voice on the Net (VON) Coalition has filed papers with the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) charging more than a dozen trading partners with creating market barriers and prohibitions that are stifling Internet based communication technologies like VoIP. The VON Coalition asks U.S. Trade negotiators to help open markets to new technologies.

The VON Coalition notes that some incumbent telephone carriers who also control the broadband network have unilaterally blocked users from communicating with VoIP over their broadband network. In several of these cases, the regulator has been complicit in efforts to curtail Internet voice communication.

Furthermore, several countries have kept high entry barriers for traditional voice services and extended these barriers to Internet based voice services. In other cases, ambiguities about VoIP service classification have allowed incumbent phone companies to unilaterally block or restricted the ability of any entity, foreign or domestic, to supply VoIP services over their broadband network. In some cases the limitations on licenses over a borderless communication medium or access to and the cost of telephone number fees have proven to be a significant barrier to market entry, as is the ability to interconnect to the legacy PSTN network.

In its filing, the VON Coalition cites specific barriers it sees in the following countries: China, India, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jordan, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia, Panama, South Africa, Korea, Belize, Chile and Turkey.