March 26, 2005

Let (Net) Freedom Ring

Yesterday Paul Kapustka reported that wireless broadband provider ClearWire may be blocking Vonage calls placed by their subscribers. Referring to this story, Jeff expresses his concern that “Net Freedom” may not be available for customers of non-Title 2 service providers. He also recalls a couple of service providers telling him that “allowing VoIP service (free riders) which wasn’t associated with their own service wasn’t in their own best interests” and wonders how to solve this.

Jeff knows what to do, because he has done it before. Not too long ago many regulators and lawmakers used the “duck test” to claim that VoIP must be regulated and taxed. Over a period of time, it was pointed out to them that in IP network, voice communication can take place in different formats, like games, that are not regulated or taxed. Also it took some effort to establish that it will be difficult to distinguish regulated and unregulated traffic. I suspect that the situation is analogues here. It looks like since VoIP has voice in it, many ISPs seem to think VoIP is a source of revenue. ISPs need to realize that as long as they allow one kind of traffic, like web traffic, then it is possible to exchange VoIP traffic in an analogous manner. It is futile to distinguish and charge differently when the network offers the same level of service. It is better to charge on the total bandwidth consumed. By the way some twenty years back, Bells charged local voice calls over ISDN, just because they wanted to charge data calls (those days 64 kbps was “broadband”), even though both the calls consumed the same network resources. If only the two calls had been more rationally charged, I suspect that ISDN would have been more successful.

Posted by aswath at March 26, 2005 11:33 PM
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