VoIP - The Arrogant Digital Divide

by Jennifer Cuellar

Over the past few months we at My VoIP Provider have received a number of emails commenting on the neccessity of comparing the call rates of various VoIP providers from around the world. We have received 10 times more thanking us for our service, nevertheless we feel it is necessary to comment on what we think is fairly arrogant attitude comming from visitors to our site from some first world countries.

In a nutshell all of these comments centered around the fact that in todays' market who cares if a call to country x costs 1, 2 or 3 cents per minute.

Without exception all of the emails have come from North America or Europe with deregulated telecommunication markets and with competition to the extreme and in general well off users.

What all of these people seem to forget is the fact that there are still another 5.5 billion living on this planet without the privileges of the first world and in most cases living off an income lower than some would pay for an evening dinner in a good restaurant in New York or London.

"So what" you may say, but the savings for these not so well off people, even if it only 5-10 US$ per month would make a world of a difference just to be able to keep in touch with friends and family. In addition there are dozens of countries around the world with die-hard Telecom monopolies in place and any possible means of by-passing and saving a few dollars here an there would make their life so much more worth living.

The UAE is a prime example of a forced state Telecom monopoly declaring VoIP services illegal. A very wealthy oil producing country with hundreds and thousands of expats - mainly from the poorer Asian countries all forced to pay artificially high call rates from the state run monopoly. No freedom of choice here.

Even in South Africa, from where we operate, we are faced with a prehistoric Telecom monopoly (Telkom) and a weak, incompetent and corrupt regulator. Although VoIP was declared legal here 2 years ago our monopoly has no obligation to interconnect with local VoIP providers. In addition it is cheaper for a South African to use a US or European VoIP service to phone his neighbour than it is to make a local phone call.

We aim to provide our visitors with an overview of what is available on the international VoIP market and while our VoIP rates comparison may not be of as much interest to a German making calls to the UK or a Canadain making calls to the US it may be of interest to a user elsewhere in the world who could be paying only 1 cent per minute to phone the US instead of 10 cents from a more expensive VoIP service or a dollar per minute from his local Telco.

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