Report: Consumer VoIP contracts lacking in detail

While there are plenty of providers pushing consumer VoIP, most are letting customers down on the detail, according to new research by Telsyte.

The analyst company's latest report compared the VoIP contracts currently offered with the terms recommended by the Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF). According to its findings, those listed by the 25 VoIP providers surveyed varied dramatically.

Consumer VoIP is defined in the study as a voice service offered over a public network via broadband internet, whether that is DSL, wireless, satellite, or HFC. The service can be delivered either through a soft phone or a piece of hardware attached between the modem and telephone.

With so many providers today, it is important for consumers to be informed and to shop around. But managing director of Telsyte, Shara Evans, said the variations and amounts of information each provider offered about its service was a concern.

ACIF recommends 26 points to be covered in a telecommunication contract that include an adequate explanation of what the service is, what the minimum requirements are, the limitations of the service, the service costs, the infrastructure ownership and information on regulatory and consumer protection.

No single provider participating in Telsyte's report fulfilled every point. The length of contracts given to customers varied between one page and 50 pages, with some providers even advertising no contract, according to Evans.

"These companies obviously have very little idea of business, as even a verbal agreement, when money is exchanged, is a legally binding contract," she said.

Only three of the 25 providers were licensed carriers. Another 14 were members of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) and 10 providers were not involved in any regulatory, self regulatory or industry group at all.

"There are some providers offering VoIP services that have had very little experience in the telecommunication industry," Evans said. "Some kind of regulatory structure is important because it offers the consumer a certain amount of protection should they have complaints about the service."

Information on voice quality was also scarce, with only six providers giving customers any documentation.

"Any provider will know that once voice passes through multiple infrastructure owners over the public internet, quality is impossible to guarantee, but this should be disclosed," Evans said.

There was also a lack of information provided by the industry on infrastructure ownership, with only three providers making any mention of this, she said.

Another important area of omission was in the information given to customers about what happens if the terms and conditions change during the contractual period. Half the providers did not make any mention of this, while 40 per cent said that customers need to regularly visit the website to check whether the terms have changed.

"Having to manually check a company's terms and conditions on a weekly basis seems like an odd expectation to have of the consumer," Evans said.

Only nine providers gave any technical information, on issues such as the minimum ADSL speed required to make the service work. Only three providers could provide 000 but there was barely any mention of this limitation in contracts.

engin, with its 50-page user document, came closest to satisfying ACIF's recommendations. A spokesperson for engin said that it was aware of the recommendations but did not believe it should need to meet all of them as consumer VoIP was not a standard telephony service.

Telecommunications analyst, Paul Budde, made a clear distinction between Voice over IP (VoIP) and Voice over Internet (VoIN), claiming VoIN gives VoIP a bad reputation. VoIN was a poorer quality service with little to no customer information or support whereas VoIP offered both quality service and customer support, he said.

Regardless, both industries should be subject to full voice regulatory regime sooner rather than later, he said.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Brand Post

Imou: At home with security

Modern living is all about functionality and security for everybody from the very young to the very old. With Imou anybody can enjoy smart life – the solution is at their fingertips.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?