21 September 2006
It's well known that some countries (usually with government owned telcos) are not at all enthusiastic about VoIP system undercutting their telco monopolies. We've heard more than a few stories about VoIP bans in some countries. However, it still is fairly impressive to find out that, in Namibia, five men have now been arrested for selling VoIP services. This certainly isn't a first. Two years ago, someone was arrested in Belarus for daring to provide the people with cheap phone calls via VoIP.
What's amazing here is that things like VoIP and cheap phone calls are exactly the sort of thing that can help these countries better stimulate their economies -- so it's unfortunate that they're still seeing the best course of action to be to protect their own monopolies. Take, for example, the situation in Bangladesh, where a ban on VoIP helped slow the country's ability to build a call center industry. It's no surprise that government monopolies don't like to be undermined, but those governments need to start recognizing the unintended consequences of what they're doing. Cheap phone calls have the ability to impact a large part of a small country's economy these days.