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Monday, February 28, 2005

Costa Rica May Criminalize VoIP

The growing surge in international VoIP calls has caused the state-owned telecommunications monopoly in Costa Rica to propose legislation that could criminalize the use of Internet telephone calls.

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) said that it views VoIP as a value-added telecom service and, as such, it should be regulated.

One Costa Rican official of an agency seeking to promote the Central American country’s software industry said last week that ICE’s proposal would be “disastrous” to the country’s efforts to grow its software development and outsourcing businesses.  The official, who asked that his name not be used, noted that Costa Rica has been rapidly growing its outsourcing business and low-cost telephone service is crucial to the growth of that business.

The use of Skype Technologies’ peer-to-peer Web calling is widespread and other VoIP services including U.S. VoIP pacesetter Vonage are also used to make and receive calls to and from the Central American nation.

The question of VoIP and whether it should be regulated as a telephone service or left unregulated as a data service has been hotly debated for several months in the U.S. Most governmental agencies and courts have ruled that Internet phoning is a data service that should not be regulated.

Posted on 02/28