Saturday, September 13, 2008

IP telephony in Japan

In Japan, IP telephony (IP電話, IP Denwa ?) is regarded as a service applied by VoIP technology to the whole or a part of the telephone line. As of 2003, IP telephony services have been assigned telephone numbers. IP telephony services also often include videophone/video conferencing services. According to the Telecommunication Business Law, the service category for IP telephony also implies the service provided via Internet, which is not assigned any telephone number.

IP telephony is basically regulated by Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) as a telecommunication service. The operators have to disclose necessary information on its quality, etc., prior to making contracts with customers, and have an obligation to respond to their complaints cordially.

Many Japanese Internet service providers (ISP) are including IP telephony services. An ISP who also provides IP telephony service is known as a "ITSP (Internet Telephony Service Provider)". Recently, the competition among ITSPs has been activated, by option or set sales, in connection with ADSL or FTTH services.

The tariff system normally applied to Japanese IP telephony is described below;

A call between IP telephony subscribers, limited to the same group, is usually free of charge.
A call from IP telephony subscribers to a fixed line or PHS is usually a uniformly fixed rate all over the country.
Between ITSPs, the interconnection is mostly maintained at VoIP level.

Where the IP telephony is assigned normal telephone number (0AB-J), the condition for its interconnection is considered same as normal telephony.
Where the IP telephony is assigned specific telephone number (050), the condition for its interconnection is described below;
Interconnection is sometimes charged. (Sometimes, it's free of charge.) In case of free-of-charge, mostly, communication traffic is exchanged via a P2P connection with the same VoIP standard. Otherwise, certain conversions are needed at the point of the VoIP gateway which incurs operating costs

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