'Skype blocking' fears allayed as Swedish mobile operator drops VoiP charging plan

Telia's plans to charge customers extra for mobile subscriptions with IP telephony included have been put on hold in Sweden and Denmark - but VoIP-less plans are still on the cards.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Swedish mobile operator Telia has ditched plans to force mobile subscribers to pay for using mobile VoIP — or live without it.


"Telia will not charge extra for mobile IP telephony services. Telia's customers will be able to continue Skyping and using other mobile IP telephony services just like today," the company announced (PDF) to Swedish customers on Monday.  

The statement comes as a partial backdown on plans aired this March (PDF) by Lars Nyberg, chief exec of Telia's parent telco TeliaSonera, to monetise IP telephony on mobile networks in the face of declining voice and messaging revenues.

Nyberg said at the time there needed to be "a stronger correlation" between the pricing of data and how it is used, and flagged that Telia would begin asking its customers to choose between VoIP and non-VoIP mobile subscriptions, in a similar fashion to its Spanish brand, Yoigo. 

This raised concerns Telia might 'block' access to free VoIP services such as Skype — a claim the company has persistently denied in claims it is committed to 'openness'.  

In a paper released earlier this year, TeliaSonera said in the future that "it is likely that mobile VoiP will not be automatically included in all our offerings, but provided as an option. It may also be provided as a separate package or even bundled with ordinary (circuit switched) voice".

Telia has made good on the plans, introducing its first VoIP-free package. The subscription, which costs around US$20 a month, includes 100MB data and access to its 4G network, but excludes IP telephony.

Data price rises

And while Telia said it won't be asking all customers to pay extra if they want mobile subscriptions with VoIP included, it will be increasing the price of data "to meet customers' growing demand for data communication""

Telia Sweden also announced it will raise data caps for a range of subscriptions from 0.5MB per day to 2MB per day, pushing up daily data charges from a nine Swedish Kronor ($1.50) daily data cap to 19 Kronor a day ($3).

It will also bump up the price of web-surfing as an add-on to existing telephony-only subscriptions by up to 30 Kronors ($4.50).

Concerns over Telia blocking Skype were recently raised in Denmark too. However, a Telia Sweden spokeswoman told ZDNet the carrier would not charge extra for mobile IP telephony in Denmark either, although it has not yet outlined a similar no-VoIP package there.

According to the spokeswoman, the main data services burdening mobile networks are video streaming apps, such as YouTube and the app from Sweden's publicly-owned media network, SVT.

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