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10.23.07 / inko9nito

All your VoIP are belong to ISP

What do VoiceWing and Vonage have in common? They are both VoIP services. What is the difference? VoiceWing is owned by Verizon, which also happens to be an ISP.

Proponents of the concept of Net Neutrality claim that ISPs are fighting for the power to control what passes through their pipes, and if they win, they will have the ability to block certain sites and even services, such as VoIP. This will in turn result in disgruntled customers switching to the VoIP service their ISP provides. How convenient!

Several blogs and forums suggest that this blockage had already occurred, as they were unable to use some VoIP services using their current internet service. Some of these claims were made back in 2005, so when SMITH ON VOIP got around to it two years later, he found that neither he nor his friends had problems using their VoIP services.

Little did he know that, according to InternetNews.com,

[i]nternet telephony companies Vonage and Nuvio have turned to federal authorities [FCC] with their complaints that some broadband providers are blocking or degrading their Voice over IP (define) services [by blocking certain ports].

In each case, [the broadband providers] had their own VoIP service,” said Jason Talley, president and CEO of Nuvio.

This article was written in 2005 when the above-mentioned forum complaints were written, and two years later, some still seem to have the same problem, save “Smith,” who probably just got lucky. Smith makes it sounds like some conspiracy theory, and those with insufficient knowledge on the subject may agree, but according to the Wikipedia article (citing adequate sources) just a year before, “in 2004, a small North Carolina telecom company, Madison River Communications, blocked their DSL customers from using the Vonage VoIP service. Service was restored after the FCC intervened and entered into a consent decree that had Madison River pay a fine of $15,000.” Some conspiracy theory that is.

ISPs have done it before and they will definitely do it again, if they are not already doing so. Net Neutrality is very much at risk and needs to be protected. It’s comforting to know that VoIP companies are also inconvenienced by certain ISP practices, which brings hope that they will also fight for this cause (unless of course they all start providing their own internet services, but let’s think positive thoughts…).

If you already signed the petition and are looking for other ways to ensure that the net stays neutral, when deciding for whom to vote in 2008, make sure you know what your candidate’s stance is on net neutrality.

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