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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

3G terms of service comparison... treatment of VoIP?

Based on the discussion of my post yesterday about Vodafone's stance on explicitly banning IM, P2P and VoIP traffic from its new 15MB per day for £1 data tariff, I thought I'd look at some of the other operator policies in this area to compare.

First off, 3's X-series: (unlimited for £5 per month)

“Using the X-Services to exploit the unlimited offers We will also consider your use unfair if you use the X-Series services in any way designed to unfairly exploit the unlimited usage or cause us loss, for example, by using the services for commercial purposes, accessing services that are not included or using an unauthorised device. We may make reasonable changes this policy in accordance with the Terms for 3 Services and any new version will replace this version.”

This gives 3 the right to control “services that are not included”, if they “cause loss”, which in theory could be applied to VoIP if a huge chunk of voice traffic suddenly migrated. But, realistically, only a few users will likely be bothered to use VoIPo3G – and they’d have to be using it so much that the transport costs offset the extra £5 a month they’re paying for the X-series service anyway. Also, it is worth noting that sat the launch event, a senior 3 representative confirmed verbally to Disruptive Analysis that using VoIP was acceptable “Yes, you can even download a packet-based Skype client if you want”

Next, a senior excutive from ONE Austria, speaking at a wVoIP conference in March 2007 said, regarding VoIP that “you’re very welcome” to use it on his company’s HSDPA service. He also took thge view that hardly anyone would be bothered, so he didn't care, especially as this would probably help with fixed-mobile substitution even more. I can't find the detailed T's and C's on its website, but if any German speakers want to help out I'd be interested in seeing the legalese.

Now, T-Mobile UK’s Web’n’Walk Fair Use terms vary according to the tiers of service chosen. So, some of the more basic packages stipulate “We do not permit use of this service to provide modem access for a computer or for peer to peer file sharing, internet phone calls or instant messaging”. However, others just say “We do not permit use of this service for internet phone calls.”, and the highest tiers have no apparent usage restrictions at all beyond bandwidth caps. This looks like a pretty sensible compromise to me, although it is for use only on monthly contract rather than daily / prepay. And at the same conference as above, a T-Mobile Czech Republic representative was also talking about permitting the use of VoIP via PCs on 3G to help compete vs. DSL.

Although I don't have a direct link to the terms themselves, it was reported here last week that Verizon Wireless’ EV-DO terms of service (for laptops, it seems) included the conditions: … may ONLY be used with wireless devices for the following purposes: (i) Internet browsing; (ii) email; and (iii) intranet access (including access to corporate intranets, email, and individual productivity applications like customer relationship management, sales force, and field service automation). The Unlimited Data Plans and Features MAY NOT be used for any other purpose. Examples of prohibited uses include, without limitation, the following: (i) continuous uploading, downloading or streaming of audio or video programming or games; (ii) server devices or host computer applications, including, but not limited to, Web camera posts or broadcasts, automatic data feeds, automated machine–to–machine connections or peer–to–peer (P2P) file sharing; or (iii) as a substitute or backup for private lines or dedicated data connections. Interestingly, this doesn’t seem to exclude VoIP explicitly, especially in the case of enterprises wanting to connect to voice servers & application on their intranets.

And then Telstra’s mobile data service terms & conditions include about 214 pages of details, which do not at first glance appear to prohibit VoIP use on its myriad different wireless offerings. However, its general terms stipulate what it terms a “fairplay policy” applicable to mobile data – “Unreasonable use: You must not use any of our FairPlay offers in a way that is unreasonable. We consider it unreasonable where you use a FairPlay offer fraudulently or in a manner that causes significant network congestion. Fraudulent use of a FairPlay offer covers resupplying our mobile service without our consent, so that someone else can take advantage of a FairPlay offer”. Whether VoIP is “unreasonable” is an interesting discussion…..

Interestingly neither Vodafone nor T-Mobile seem to specifically exclude SlingBox-type TV placeshifting services, which I would have thought were much more dangerous to the network than VoIP.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

FWIW One of the Vodafone UK managers at the recent Germany & UK investor presentation said the (as yet unannounced) bundles would allow VoIP. That was in the non-webcast UK Q&A session