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Are telecommunications companies mounting a conspiracy to kill VoIP?

We could see it coming from a mile and no later than on Tuesday, Steve was talking about the throttling of VoIP (Voice over IP) services by some British Internet Service Providers (opens in new tab).

The same is currently happening in the US and Canada with the bigger telecommunications companies and the trend is likely to amplify in the next few months.

VoIP represents a real threat to the very survival of telecommunication companies which rely on landline calls for the bulk of their revenues. VoIP not only cuts their revenues as companies look for cheaper alternatives of communications, it also uses a small but significant amount of quality bandwidth which could otherwise be used for other purposes.

Even though VoIP can manage with as little as 23kbps - which means even a rudimentary dial up connection should be enough - this has to be quality connection, one that cannot wait or else the end user will be hit by lags and high response times.

What ISPs have started doing is prioritising the packets, which is how data is transported on the internet; which can be either seen as a deliberate attempt to wipe out competition or a way of saving what can be saved.

To do that, they are increasingly resorting to special packet sniffing solutions which can sift through and sort out information packets and put the premium ones on top.

If they manage to get away with this, then one only wonders how long it will be before they start squeezing other internet companies like Yahoo, Google and Ebay. The latter though has the most to lose having invested billions in VoIP start-up, Skype.

Désiré Athow
Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.