Swedish Carrier Telia Moves Forward with Plans to Charge for VoIP Access

Earlier this year there were rumblings that Sweden's mobile carrier Telia would seek to preserve its dwindling revenue stream by preventing access to Skype and other VoIP services. In late April, that stance was softened, with Telia announcing its intent to charge customers who were using over-the-top (OTT) mobile VoIP apps to bypass their plan's voice minutes.

Yoinks! Yoigo VoIP Users Pay for Privilege

That general intent is creeping closer to reality for our Nordic VoIP-using brethren, as the Swedish telco has been using its Spanish subsidiary, Yoigo, as a testing ground. (As if Spain isn't having enough problems with money right now.) Since April 25, Telia's Yoigo customers using Bono Voz IP have been charged $7.50 per month for 100 MB of VoIP traffic, which translates to about 5-10 hours of Skype calls.

Traffic Concerns a Smokescreen for Profit Loss

While Telia and most other carriers are naturally concerned about their bottom line, their efforts to curtail or discourage OTT VoIP services have been repeatedly linked to concerns over voice IP traffic jams on 3G and 4G networks. However, in May, Telia also disclosed that they would not permit free OTT VoIP use on their LTE network (which already has 140,000 subscribers), either. This would seem to give more credence to the VoIP service providers (waving the flag of net neutrality) claims that cellular carriers are being "fundamentally anti-competitive," as argued by the Internet Telephony Service Providers' Associaion (ITSPA).

Telia's Future Plans

Meanwhile, in May, Telia announced its own if-you-can'-t-beat-them-join-them strategy: The mobile carrier is building its own multimedia service that would integrate IMs, video sharing, texting, VoIP, and presence updates (think KakaoTalk, which has been having its own problems with mobile carriers).

Telia has said its pricing plans for Swedish cellular customers will be finalized in August. Telia also continues to reassure its customers that, despite the new limits, existing customers can continue to use OTT VoIP services without penalty — until their contracts expire.