Independent voice over IP (VoIP) providers have slated an ICASA (Independent Communications Authority of SA) decision which effectively allows cell phone operators to charge more for VoIP than data.
The regulatory authority recently allowed MTN differential tariffing, which means it is allowed to charge more for VoIP packets than data packets.
In addition, the ruling could affect what were up until now free or cheap voice calls over systems like Skype, Skaap or Yeigo if they are made over a mobile connection.
Andrew Davies, MD of Skaap, believes operators will continue to capitalise on voice tariffs for the next three to five years.
"However," we are already seeing a trend towards voice becoming simply another Internet application.
"While the services offered by the cellular operators and Telkom still offer superior quality, particularly for national traffic, we believe that within the next few years Voice over Internet (VoIP) will have increasing impact on the market share and margins of traditional fixed and mobile operators."
Davies is disappointed with the ICASA decision as it could threaten the impetus required to grow VoIP from the point of view of its most compelling benefit – cost-effectiveness.