Using the internet to talk to each other – with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) – has huge potential in developing countries. It can dramatically cut high communication costs, as well encourage individuals to stay in touch with each other.
For example, rural villages can be connected even if they don’t have direct phone line connections. And I can now speak to my mother in Chennai, India for a fraction of the cost of using a UK landline provider – I pay as little as £5 for three hours.
Sadly, developing country governments have been reluctant to open up this market as it threatens the revenue from state-owned telecom industries.
Last month, Pakistan issued a ban on all ‘illegal’ uses of VoIP (seemingly anything outside call centres). And Bangladesh this week announced it would take ‘stern actions’ against the use of VoIP for overseas calls, though has plans to legalise some aspects.
It seems that supposedly democratic states are forcing their citizens to pay more just to talk to each other – what an irony!