Don't Slow Down VoIP Providers, Just Speed Up Your Own Packets

from the sneaky,-sneaky dept

Last month Vonage claimed that some rural telcos were blocking Vonage traffic in a misguided effort to protect their own telephone revenue. While the FCC is looking into this, Bob Cringely thinks the problem is only going to get worse. His point is that the broadband providers will learn not to block or degrade independent VoIP traffic, but instead, will simply tag their own traffic for a higher quality of service. This isn’t a new idea of course. Cringely suggests that improving your own traffic obviously won’t be illegal, and as long as they’re not technically degrading another provider’s traffic, they’ll be able to do this. This doesn’t only apply to VoIP either. It could be used for file sharing or plenty of other applications. If you use your broadband providers’, you get better speeds. If you use someone else’s, you get “best efforts.” Of course, what Cringely is missing is what happens after providers start doing this. As soon as people realize this is happening there will be an outcry (see what’s happening with Vonage?) and politicians will quickly require network neutrality, telling service providers to provide a neutral network and making the practice of selectively tagging only approved services illegal.

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Comments on “Don't Slow Down VoIP Providers, Just Speed Up Your Own Packets”

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Nate says:

IP is not's data

Until Vonage (and the rest of the parasitic VoIP offerings) play by ALL of the same rules as the traditional phone companies, the data network owners should be allowed to block whatever DATA traffic they want to, let their customers choose with their wallet (and I’m not completely sold on the Until part). IP data packets are just that…data, not voice phone calls. The fact that the data can be reassembled at the far end into an audio signal is irrelevant.

If Vonage wants to become a phone company, then do it the right way and submit to full regulation.

Chris says:

Re: IP is not's data

A large portion of that regulation is there because the phone company (ILEC) owns and operates the copper in the ground and the central offices that all other phone and related data products must utilize. It’s not as if an ISP or CLEC can just choose to bypass an ILEC and run DSL out to a customer over a brand new pair of copper wires.

With VoIP if you don’t like the service provided by one company you are free to contact another for service. Your own statement says that “The fact that the data can be reassembled at the far end into an audio signal is irrelevant”. Don’t think of Vonage then as a phone company but instead of a content provider. How are VoIP packets different then AOL IM or XBox Live packets.

Because it’s just going over an existing line all the providers (other then those who also operate the physical layer of the connection such as ILECs and Cable Companies) are on a equal field to offer you service on.

You believe that network owners should be free to limit and adjust traffic however they want. That could leave us with an internet where Microsoft buddies up with MCI, Level 3, or other major backbone providers and we can only reach portions of the internet using MSIE or MSN Messenger.

Regulations on phone companies exist to allow access to their physical networks to competition. As soon as Vonage starts laying their own phone lines then we can start putting those same regulations on them.

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