Wednesday, June 08, 2005

‘Voice’ services are coming

In a recent interview with a local daily, Ms. Muna Nejem, head of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), discussed the losses incurred by illegal Internet telephony and estimated the amount to be 12 million Dinars.

The issue of Internet telephony and Voice over IP (VoIP) has always been a contentious one in Jordan.

For several years there has been an ongoing discussion of the business opportunities that Jordan could have utilized to establish call-centers to serve the region, and several multi-nationals have been reported to inquire and discuss such projects.

However, due to the laws governing voice services, very little happened. The law gave Jordan Telecom a monopoly on voice services up until 31 December, 2004. Now that the monopoly has ended, every company or entity planning to sell such services must apply for a license from the TRC.

It seems, however, that there are many violations of this procedure and maintaining control of the situation has been difficult.

Internet-based telephony services have side-stepped the regulation process. Peer-to-peer telecommunications services, such as Skype, are being used extensively all over the world and in Jordan, where the use of such services is increasing.

Due to issues of jurisdiction, it's difficult to regulate such use of international services based in the United States or elsewhere by individual consumers in homes and offices.

However any Internet cafes or 'call service centers' which provide this service to the Jordanian public and charge them for it per-hour or minute are in violation of the law and will be penalized.

A crackdown on these offenders requires a substantial amount of resources, but is possible. Obviously, there's a need for more awareness and better organization of the telecommunications sector with regard to voice services.

The TRC is doing its part, working as effectively as it can given the time required to eventually conquer these problems. For now, the focus seems to be on awarding voice service licenses as soon as possible.

Already, one company, Batelco Jordan, has received such a license and it is expected that two more companies will be awarded such licenses by August.

On another front, the TRC is working closely with data communications licensees (Internet ISPs and others) to lower the costs of their services to enable further Internet penetration in Jordan and to ensure that the roll-out of all services in a liberalized market environment is comprehensive.

These issues facing Jordan's telecommunications sector do not differ from the challenges faced by any country. In fact, telecommunication operators such as GSM licensees and ISPs have been operating in an open and competitive market for many years.

Fixed line and voice services are next. It should be interesting to see how the competition evolves in those categories, and to which degree local licensees will benefit as the international Internet-based services continue to grow and compete with them. It's all to the benefit of the local consumer, so stay tuned.


At 10:20 PM , Blogger Haitham Sabbah said...

Thanks for sharing, Zeid.

Could you please turn ON 'Trackback", and would be better if you allow non 'Blogger' visitor to post a comment!

At 12:57 PM , Blogger Zeid Nasser said...

Thanks for your kind comment Haitham.
I want to congratulate you on your leading role and efforts in Arab blogging... I actually mentioned your efforts and name in a previous article..
The posts on my blog are of my column (called Interface) which I publish in The Star, Jordan's English language weekly newspaper. About the 'trackback' and non-blogger responses, I've gone through the settings but can't seem to find a way to do it. Can you help?

At 1:34 PM , Blogger Haitham Sabbah said...

Hello Zeid,

I'm not a user of, but according to them they say that it
is not directly supported. But you can do that as all other user are doing by using this service:

Which is free service and integrates with blogger and can be used to
manage your comments and trackbacks.

At 10:58 PM , Blogger Ameen Malhas said...

"...and to ensure that the roll-out of all services in a liberalized market environment is comprehensive."

How can the market be liberal if we're going to penalize people for using Skype?

The rationale is similar to penalizing people for using MSN Messenger instead of SMS!

Just let VoIP flourish on its own.

Regulate ISPs, providers of Internet services, not users. Let the liberalized market push them to higher quality and speeds at lower costs, but penalizing added services is a waste of time and effort.

The only VoIP services that should be regulated are VoIP boxes hooked up to broadband connections with (+962-) numbers... Will it ever happen in Jordan? and already sell virtual (or soft) numbers in Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Canada, France, Guatemala, Honk Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan and the UK.

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