Ministry criticised for launching VoIP licensing

22 Feb 2005

Russian industry analysts have criticised a government move to introduce a licensing regime for IP-based telephony providers, claiming that it helps protect incumbent telcos, especially state-owned long distance monopoly operator Rostelecom. The new regulations, drafted by the IT Ministry, state that companies offering internet telephony need a licence, in addition to further conditions that the critics say will make it difficult for independent VoIP providers to operate legally and may drastically reduce investment in Russian IP networks. The next legislative step for the state is to bring into force a law governing how the IP-based companies connect their services to Rostelecom’s network. The independent operators, mainly small, local players, have been eating into the long distance market share of Rostelecom with VoIP calls costing a fraction of voice calls made directly over the incumbent’s network, due to the government’s policy of keeping long distance tariffs artificially high to subsidise cheap local rates.