Thursday, March 29, 2012

Do Yoigo customers in Spain really care about net neutrality?




TeliaSonera was very upfront at the recent Mobile World Congress about its intentions to throttle over-the-top (OTT) VoIP services like Skype and Viber unless customers paid for an additional package.

In Spain, through its wholly owned subsidiary , Yoigo, TeliaSonera has already begun to implement the first part of this strategy. Yoigo offers a plan, Bono VoIP, which is included in some of what they call their “Mega Plans.” In, for example, Mega Plan 40, you get 600 minutes of talk time plus 600MB data allowance, and in addition to that you get a 100Mb for VoIP calls.

Does this mean that Yoigo is throttling “unpaid” VoIP traffic? It would be in line with statements from TeliaSonera. It would also be in line with what many other European operators are doing, according to a recent report from BEREC, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications.

But what will the reaction be? When Dutch operator KPN last year announced plans to charge subscribers extra for the use of OTT services, with a focus on WhatsApp, which is huge in the country, it sparked an uproar, which ended with Dutch legislators quickly introducing – and passing – a net neutrality law.

The situation in Spain seems to be very different. Apart from a few disgruntled voices, Spanish subscribers seem to accept Yoigo’s add-on offering.

Why is this? Is it because Yoigo is the fourth operator in what is essentially a three-operator market? Are OTT services and their availability not an important factor in Spain? Or is it because consumers – outside the Netherlands – aren’t paying attention yet?

Or are we seeing the start of a new attitude from consumers, a willingness to pay for OTT VoIP services if the rest of an operator’s offering is attractive?  

What do you think?

4 comments:

  1. This is a very interesting topic. Clearly there is a requirement for operators to gain a return on the investment they have in the network. Is it possible that consumer power amongst Yoigo customers is relatively low given the demographic? Are they so tempted by the low traditional voice calls that they have no option? Very interested to hear any specific info on how this is being managed in Spain.

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  2. Thanks for your comment. You certainly point out two possible explanations. Yoigo has just launched this strategy, so it will be interesting to see how their customers react as they learn more about VoIP Bono. Just like you we are very interested in finding out more about how this is being managed and what the outcome will be.

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  3. I am a Yoigo customer in Spain. I subscribed back in 2007 because I was attracted by their new attitude in this market. The three other operators seemed like a robbery to me. I'm almost an internet only user, I barely call or text, I would be more than happy without phone number, just 3G. So Yoigo was great, back then you could choose exactly what you wanted to pay, the only person that I called had a Yoigo phone too and so I picked the free unlimited plan between Yoigo customers. Then came the internet for 8 euros a month with no minimum for voice. So I ended up paying no more than 10 euros a month for unlimited talk time with 1 person and 500 mb of internet (skype and OTT services included). That was great. Then they progressively trashed the free plan, and now they trash net neutrality. I'm looking for a new operator. Or may be we should put more efforts in the deployment of free wifi to finish this nonsense.

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  4. Hi Bastian, and thank you for this very interesting description of your experience with Yoigo. Charging consumers for OTT services and capping data plans has not been that common in Europe yet, as far as I know, so there are probably a lot of operators watching the Spanish market right now to see how this new strategy will affect Yoigo.

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