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Net Phones Taking Off in the Third World 173

dipfan writes "Internet telephone technology is surging in popularity and starting to make a big dent in telephone revenues in the Third World, for a simple reason: cost. A call from Honduras to the US over the net is just 5 or 10 cents a minute at an internet cafe, compared with $1+ a minute through a telco, reports the Washington Post, which compares the situation to the US where internet telephony "is used mostly by college students and geeks" who have the time and energy to install the software."
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Net Phones Taking Off in the Third World

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  • Bandwith (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BrianGa ( 536442 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @10:07AM (#3373236)
    Be careful of bandwith issues. Bandwidth will always be a problem. No matter how much bandwidth you add, no matter how big you make your highways, no matter how much oil you drill, people will always use as much as you make, even if it means wasting it or creating enough traffic to degrade the whole thing. There is no substitute for efficiency. A better license can compensate for inferior technology to only a minor degree.
  • User demographics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by svindler ( 78075 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @10:08AM (#3373244) Homepage
    I use Yahoo! Messenger to talk to a friend in the US regularly.
    I "call" from Denmark, and he is not a college student.
    Does that mean Denmark is a third world country or is my friend a geek?
  • Obvious (Score:2, Insightful)

    by morie ( 227571 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @10:09AM (#3373255) Homepage
    It is cheap, so who's going to use it first? People with little money! When I was a student, I always knew where to get my bargains as well (now my time is worth more than the discount I recieve), and most of these people have a lot less to spend!

    I am not particulary surprised at this.

  • Speaking from personal experience, my stepfather (in Virginia) uses VoIP to talk to his brother in England. And it's not just because of cost (since both of them are senior-level managers at a telco and a hardware vendor, respectively), but also because most of the time, they're online and in front of their computers anyway.

  • by petree ( 16551 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @10:13AM (#3373297) Journal
    It's about time we actually used this bandwidth towards something useful. This will most likely do one of two things:

    1) Decrease the costs of traditional telephone service because they will need to compete with net based services.

    2) Increase the costs associated with connections to the internet, because as people use more, the costs for everyone goes up.

    I'm not sure which will actually occur, but I bet with services such as this [] around, you'll see a lot of broadband companies upset because they will want their piece of the action. If the average user starts using his/her connection for phone services too instead of just downloading, why are people so confused when they hear about price increases such as this []. To me, it just makes sense, more people will use it for more things==service costs more to provide.

    Now I'm just waiting for some level of QOS to implemented world wide for this sort of thing, that way my phone call doesn't wait for your warez. Know what I mean?

  • by ProfMoriarty ( 518631 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @10:17AM (#3373321) Journal
    but since a lot of third-world governments run both the ISPs AND Telcos ... how long before they realize that they are losing money?

    When they attempt to shut it down, will anything like Peek-a-booty [] be able to come to the rescue?

  • by AnyLoveIsGoodLove ( 194208 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @10:41AM (#3373469)
    I am disturbed by the serious lack of understanding of basic Telecom on Slashdot. Why do people pay for USD 20 + for basic service (dial tone) in the US? Simple. It works and is never down. You want 911 on a DSL line. No Way. I am not trusting my family's safety to some DSL line.

    3rd world countries are going to use the internet for phones, but it won't catch on a for a while (many many years) here in the US. The US is quality sensitive.

    How many people have tried to unplug your land line and have just a cell phone. It sucks, even in areas where coverage is good.

    Remember, the Telecom industry considers ethernet an immature techology.

    Telecoms are in trouble because the margins on Data products are a lot less than voice products. As they increased the mix of data products to stay competive, their margins went to the crapper.

  • by dipfan ( 192591 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @01:04PM (#3374416) Homepage
    A more accurate definition [] of the origins of the term Third World:

    THIRD WORLD -- the economically underdeveloped countries of Asia, Africa, Oceania, and Latin America, considered as an entity with common characteristics, such as poverty, high birthrates, and economic dependence on the advanced countries. The French demographer Alfred Sauvy coined the expression ("tiers monde" in French) in 1952 by analogy with the "third estate," the commoners of France before and during the French Revolution-as opposed to priests and nobles, comprising the first and second estates respectively. Like the third estate, wrote Sauvy, the third world is nothing, and it "wants to be something." The term therefore implies that the third world is exploited, much as the third estate was exploited, and that, like the third estate its destiny is a revolutionary one. It conveys as well a second idea, also discussed by Sauvy, that of non-alignment, for the third world belongs neither to the industrialized capitalist world nor to the industrialized Communist bloc. The expression third world was used at the 1955 conference of Afro-Asian countries held in Bandung, Indonesia. In 1956 a group of social scientists associated with Sauvy's National Institute of Demographic Studies, in Paris, published a book called Le Tiers-Monde. Three years later, the French economist Francois Perroux launched a new journal, on problems of underdevelopment, with the same title. By the end of the 1950's the term was frequently employed in the French media to refer to the underdeveloped countries of Asia, Africa, Oceania, and Latin America.
  • by rbreve ( 94225 ) on Friday April 19, 2002 @06:55PM (#3376515) Journal
    I am from Honduras, there is a law here that says that Hondutel (the only goverment telecom company) is the only one that can regulate international calls. Internet cafes can sell internet access, but they cannot sell phone calls, most of them are charging for phone calls not internet access, they could me banned and closed.

    This is a monopoly created by the government.

    There have been cases in which some people install a satellite link between honduras and the USA, install local telephone lines in Honduras, and sell phone cards in the states.

    The long distance called would only costs the local call price (2 cents a minute plus the satellite link) and you could charge 40cents a minute for a long distance call from USA to Honduras. So you only need 20 local telephones lines and a satellite link to make a lot of money (if you dont get caught)

    You can make up to 1 million dollars in 6 months..

    Sorry for my english...

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