VoIP operators unite against regulators

6 Apr 2005

More than 2,000 Russian VoIP operators have put their name to an open letter sent to President Putin complaining about the state’s handling of the burgeoning VoIP market in the country and asking for the premier’s backing in their struggle to remain in operation. The growing dissatisfaction of VoIP operators with the country’s regulatory regime was the major talking point at the annual Russian Internet Forum in Moscow last week, with the 2,000-plus independent operators – mainly small, local players – up in arms over a Ministry for Communications and Informatisation resolution signed on 28 March that effectively brand their services illegal. The telcos’ claim that the new legislation sets numerous ‘liabilities and limitations’ on the provision of VoIP services that only the country’s dominant players, namely Rostelecom and MGTS, are capable of satisfying. ‘Legislation to turn market traffic towards national and international telecom companies is a serious violation of the principle of free competition and is, in fact, a monopolisation of the telecom market in favour of one or two major companies,’ the letter claims. ‘The instructions were designed by the Ministry neglecting the opinions of the market participants and without an independent analysis.’ The VoIP operators have attempted to persuade Putin by pointing out that the VoIP sector is predicted to generate more than USD300 million annually, a large chunk of which goes into state coffers.