National telecoms monopoly ICE is currently in the process of deciding whether to regulate VoIP telephony services, according to BNamericas. ICE’s decision rests on whether it judges VoIP to be a value-added service that it can regulate, or a fraudulent use of public telecoms resources. ICE says it is keen to see a law approved that would allow the imprisonment of individuals illegally profiting from telecoms services. ICE’s revenues from international and long distance calls have diminished due to the very low cost of VoIP – a call to the US from Costa Rica is around ten times cheaper than using traditional telephony – and the company estimates that around 37% of all voice traffic to the US is now carried using VoIP.
ICE’s firm stance directly contrasts the attitude of the European Regulators Group (ERG), who agreed on 11 February not to introduce specific EU-level regulation for internet telephony until the European market further develops. The European Commission has found that only a relatively small portion of the population, mostly businesses, use VoIP services, including 110,000 users in Germany, 220,000 in France and 50,000 in the UK.