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Re: US slaps fine on company blocking VoIP

  • From: Bill Nash
  • Date: Fri Mar 04 17:08:52 2005

On Fri, 4 Mar 2005, Nathan Allen Stratton wrote:

I don't speak for BroadVoice, but this seams to be to be stupid. Why
should the government get involved in ISPs blocking ports? If customers
don't like it, go to a new provider, what country is this??

Frankly, I don't see the point, any provider that requires 5060 or any
other port to offer VoIP services deserves to be shutoff by networks
blocking those ports. It is just to easy to talk to CPE on any port.
At the root of it, it's deliberate anti-competitive behavior, and that's what the fine is for. I'm generally fine to have the government stay out of the internet as much as possible, but this move was the correct one, as it was on behalf of the end consumer. It's not the choice of port blocking that matters, it's the intent.

I'm a Vonage customer myself, because I like the flexibility and control it provides me over my phone service. I'm also a Cox broadband customer. With Cox being a telephone provider, the instant they decide to begin filtering VOIP in order to reduce competition for their product, you can bet I'm going to voting with my dollar.

Any CPE based customer is paying for a connection to the Internet. Unless they're subscribing to a specifically limited or structured access service (like AOL, for example), they have a reasonable expectation to use the service to do.. customer-like things. Knowingly subscribing to a service that will allow me to connect, outbound only, to tcp ports 80 and 443, with all mail going to a specific MTA, I would not reasonably expect to be utilizing that style of service for VOIP, and that would be fine. This is not, however, the style of service I'm paying for, and far less than my provider has already agreed to provide me with.

This extends all the way to transit peering agreements, as well. I don't recall ever seeing one that says "We agree to transit all traffic except VOIP." What would be the point? I wouldn't agree to buy incomplete transit any more than I'd try to sell it.

To have a company that also provides telephone service to specifically block a competiting service, which customers are paying them to transit, is a breach of contract at best, and outright criminal at worst.

- billn




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