A Big Day For Voice Over IP (Internet)

Here’s a story you won’t hear on Headline News, yet is very important in the telco world. It’s difficult to synopsize, so bear with me: VoIP service providers such as Vonage are providing service that seems more and more like regular telephone dialtone. Although Vonage uses the Internet, not phone lines, it differs from services like Net2Phone, Dialpad, and AOL IM because it uses standard phones, not PCs to place the call. Vonage assigns customers a regular phone number, which they use by plugging a special box into a broadband connection. So although existing customers (e mea, Brutus) are very happy with the low-cost service, conventional Telcos and state regulators are not so thrilled. State regulators have built a habit of regulating, and taxing the @#$# out of phone service providers, but these new VoIP firms are eluding the gauntlet. State regulators in Minnesota, California, and Wisconsin have taken steps to treat the VoIP service providers as Telcos, but today a federal judge in Minnesota barred that state from applying traditional telco rules to Vonage. This precedent will affect the outcomes in other states, and paves the way for a huge revolution in the way the phone industry works in througout the world. This is no small or distant change: 100 years of telecom momentum will be blown-up by VoIP in this decade, and the fuse is now lit.

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