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Speak Up On FCC VoIP Regulation

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the appropriate-circumlocution dept.

The Internet 127

jeffpulver writes "Speak now or forever hold your peace. The FCC will decide whether or not to regulate Internet Telephony in the U.S. over the next several months. On February 5th I filed a petition with the FCC on behalf of Free World Dialup, asking for a Declaratory Ruling that states that Broadband Internet Telephony which doesn't touch the public switched telephone network (PSTN) should not be ruled as either "Telecommunications" or as a "Telecommunications Service" as defined by the Telecom Act of 1996. On February 14th the FCC put the petition out for public comment. The public has until March 14th to respond." This is an important issue -- read on below for some more information on the background and significance of the present petition. A copy of the original petition is posted here. [1.5 MB pdf file]

Back in March, 1996 the ACTA Petition was filed which in effect asked for the internet telephony software companies selling to consumers to be treated to the same regulations as phone companies. While the FCC never ruled on ACTA, the petition started to raise questions about the future regulation of Internet Telephony in the United States and around the world. Some countries were quick to ban internet telephony based on the out of control hype that existed back in the Spring of 1996 while many other countries took a "wait and see" approach.

The Petition is in many ways the exact opposite of the ACTA petition insomuch what I was asking for is that end-to-end Internet Telephony over Broadband remain unregulated. After seven years of waiting, now that VoIP technologies have gone mainstream and now that consumers are once again using these technologies and now that these technologies work quite well, I wanted to remove the cloud of regulatory uncertainty when it came to VoIP and broadband Internet Telephony. My hope is that "we" as a community can encourage the FCC for fast action on the FWD petition as a way for the FCC to help encourage investment. Once the regulatory uncertainty is removed, I strongly believe investors will once again look at the VoIP industry as the hot space to invest in and encourage innovation in.

Please take advantage of the Petition and share your comments with the FCC. Click here for details on how to reply to the petition.Please reply by March 14th."

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fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5310681)

first post


FP? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5310693) [] owns.

owns what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5310891)

Seriously, if a website is so fucking stupid that even trolls won't hit it, it's time to give it up.

Slashdot celebrates Negro Month: Sammy Davis Jr. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5310695)

Sammy Davis Jr.

On November 19, 1954, the career of Sammy Davis Jr. almost came to a sudden and tragic close. While driving to Los Angeles to record the title tune of the Universal International picture "Six Bridges to Cross", Sammy was the victim of an automobile smash-up and narrowly escaped death. He was so seriously injured that his left eye had to be removed. In spite of the terrible shock, Sammy rallied and went on with his work; he even insisted that he was the "luckiest guy in the world".

Since his accident, Sammy's courageous spirit and ever-growing talent have won him increasingly enthusiastic audiences. Let's hear it for Sammy Davis Jr. !

Celebrate Negro Month 2003 with Slashdot.

omg (-1, Offtopic)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310696)

frist rpsot!

fisrt pstor!


Re:omg (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5310759)


Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5310701)

What is this all about? Just give me my freakin' internet access and let me use whatever apps I want on it. If someone else wants to put together something using the infrastructure of the internet, let them doing it without distrupting internet business as usual in any way. VoIP? Great, just don't expect me to put up with all types of restrictions on it or to take a hit on regular internet usage.

But isn't it a telecommunications service? (5, Insightful)

jolyonr (560227) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310704)

Surely the transport mechanism doesn't matter. If you're providing a method for person A to talk to person B why should any one service be deregulated when others are regulated? I think that individuals using this over their broadband links is one thing, but for-profit companies wishing to invest into this industry don't have a strong case for avoiding regulation of some kind.

Re:But isn't it a telecommunications service? (5, Insightful)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310733)

What difference does it make if the communication between two points on the internet is voice data? How is that different from any other kind of data? What if I record my voice into an MP3, and email that file to my mom? Should that be regulated too? What if I write a program that emails MP3s between two people back-and-forth? It would be half-duplex voice communications, but I could hold a conversation with someone that way. Where do you draw the line?

Re:But isn't it a telecommunications service? (1)

njchick (611256) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311217)

If you are not providing service to anyone you should be fine already. The question is whether to regulate telecommunication services.

plastic cups with string? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311333)

Damn, I wish I was more "hip".

If they can regulate VoIP, they can (and they will) regulate anything. Soon we'll be paying a fee just to tap out morse code on the pipes between floors in our houses.

F*ck all. The REAL problem (imho) is that the legal system is about 30-60 years behind the internet, average age-wise. The "lawyers and judges" can't keep up with the realities so they try to force a square peg into a painfully round hole (the average 'netizen's arse).

Yeah, we oughta sign the petition.

But instead of just sticking our fingers in the leaking dike, mayhap we should write to congress to increase the techno-literacy level of our government and legal system?

*slaps forehead* oh wait, my bad, asking the government to bring competent people into a beauracracy is like asking an elephant for a mouse. The one fears the other and would sooner stamp it flat or flee entirely than do the obviously responsible thing.
I love ignorance.

A.C: Posting anon since I got flamed for breathing. *we don't need no steenking karma*

Re:But isn't it a telecommunications service? (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311700)

If the government read your comment and took it to heart they would just go ahead and tax all internet use and commerce.

Logically it makes no sense whatsoever to not tax VoIP while taxing normal phone calls. If you argue that it shouldn't matter what kind of data is carried, everything will end up taxed.

In reality, there is no good argument for no taxation of VoIP. The only solution is to accept that standardized or at least major provider-provided VoIP is going to end up taxed like other phone calls, or all internet access will be taxed, or both.

If you really want to argue that VoIP shouldn't be taxed you have to prove that it is substantially different from normal voice communications, which of course is not at all true. The whole point of internet telephony is to provide users with a comfortable and consistent interface, IE, the telephone. Since both will use a lookup database of some sort to resolve numbers to lines (maybe we'll be using numbers, maybe it'll be tied to an email address or some single signon mechanism) and both types of data are carried over a packet switching network, I really don't think there's any strong argument to be made that they are substantially different. If there is one to be made, it is the lack of a need for a PBX to 'animate' these devices; They have no more and no less need for support when compared to any other IP device.

Re:But isn't it a telecommunications service? (1)

Vaughn Anderson (581869) | more than 11 years ago | (#5312989)

What if you have DSL? hmmmm... round and round we go... Then everything you send goes over telco lines...

Re:But isn't it a telecommunications service? (4, Insightful)

Duds (100634) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310747)

But what about non-vocal ones like IRC?

Or sending an email with a Wav?

Or for that matter is VoIP covering MSN/ICQ/AOL/YAHOO IMs?

Re:But isn't it a telecommunications service? (4, Insightful)

DavidinAla (639952) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310754)

The better question is why should ANY of them be regulated? The rationale for regulating them in the old days was that it was a monopoloy service. If pretty much anybody can compete -- using the Internet as the infrustructure -- why SHOULD there be any regulation of the service?

The existing phone companies like regulation because it shields them from further competition. There's no reason for them to be protected by the competition brought by new technology (which is going to lower the price of communication for consumers).


Re:But isn't it a telecommunications service? (1)

AmigaAvenger (210519) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310857)

The existing phone companies like regulation because it shields them from further competition

Actually, the opposite is true. Regulation enables competition, without it, the babybells take over. With regulation, they are kept at bay, at least until they pay enough congresscritters to change it.

Re:But isn't it a telecommunications service? (1)

DavidinAla (639952) | more than 11 years ago | (#5312123)

I'm sorry, but that's just not true. The only reason that the Baby Bells (or any other company) has a true monopoly is BECAUSE of a legacy of regulation. AT&T was given the monopoly in most of the United States in the early days (and smaller companies were given monopolies in areas where Ma Bell didn't want to go at the time).

The situation we have today (where the incumbent local carriers have de facto monopolies) exist ONLY because government got involved to keep the competition out. Contrary to what you and many people mistakenly believe, regulation does NOT bring true competition. Only unfettered markets ultimately do that.

We're in the situation where we are because of monopolistic government utility decisions years and years ago. The effects of those old decisions aren't going to go away overnight, but the market will ultimately bring competition, not bureaucrats.


Re:But isn't it a telecommunications service? (1)

machinegestalt (452055) | more than 11 years ago | (#5312807)

Wrong. The market can't create competition out of impossible circumstances. If a company has an absolute advantage through unmatchable economy of scale, natural resouces or some other intrinsic element deregulation is going to make the situation worse.

Re:But isn't it a telecommunications service? (1)

DavidinAla (639952) | more than 11 years ago | (#5312852)

I disagree with your premise in the first place, but your application of your premise to this particular siutation is even less defensible. There is no natural resource involved in providing telephone service and the only reason the incumbent phone companies have any advantage that could be termed economy of scale is that they were given a monopoly through regulation, NOT through market action.

You're looking at the mess that has been CREATED by regulation and then claiming that MORE regulation will fix it -- and that's just plain not true. There are no "impossible circumstances" involved in providing a true market in phone service OTHER THAN those circumstances that have been CREATED by the very thing that you apparently advocate.


Re:But isn't it a telecommunications service? (1)

Exiler (589908) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310786)

Why wouldn't the transport mechanism matter? The FCC is a national body, the internet is international. How can the FCC regulate something far outsite it's jurisdiction?

Re:But isn't it a telecommunications service? (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311114)

is the air regulated?

Re:But isn't it a telecommunications service? (1)

ctxspy (94924) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311811)

Surely it does.

The reason that telecommunications is regulated because of the high cost of entry to the market. If there was no regulation, then the oligopoly that exists would charge exorbitant rates (See Bell, pre breakup).

The broadband providers are in essence the same as the telephone service providers. In this instance, the computer & the VoIP software are parallel to the telephone, and the internet service (which routes the packets) is the equivalent of the switching system run by the telcos.

Internet access, WAS taxed, until (i forget the name) a law passed that prohibited such taxation in the mid 90's.

So, in short, VoIP isn't the same as Voice over POTS because the cost of entry into the market is extremely low -- In fact, there are Free alternatives available such as GnomeMeeting, which supports all of the X.whatever standards, much like NetMeeting.


P.S. - It's not wise to look back and base future decisions on past necessities simply because you don't want to change the status quo. If things (such as e-mail and VoIP) don't cost anything to provide over other data transmission, then why tax it?.. To preserve an obsolete industry? If th FCC taxes VoIP (which would be hard to do anyway -- change the ports, run encryption), then TelCos are essentially having their cake (as ISPs) and eating it too (as Phone companies). This equates to the Coca Cola company installing temperature sensors into vending machines, jacking up the prices as the temperature rises.

Re:But isn't it a telecommunications service? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311813)

Very astute. Champions of degregulation should think about Microsoft, which turned a greedy college dropout into a latter-day robber baron.

That had better be "free" as in beer, or it's just another opportunity for people like Gates to found their own abominations of capitalism that a gushing, clueless press will hail as a phenomenon of undiluted genius.

I'm certain that the Slashdot community is more sophisticated than that.

Take a look at the exhibits - there's no ruling from the FCC at all. They've filed a petition and the FCC has published a request for comments.

Frankly, I smell astrotruf.

Re:But isn't it a telecommunications service? (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 11 years ago | (#5313106)

Surely the transport mechanism doesn't matter.

The hell it doesn't.

why should any one service be deregulated when others are regulated?

Telcos are regulated because they are considered to be natural monopolies (you don't want to have 4 phone companies with 4 sets of wires going to each home).

Since VoIP doesn't have the 'natural monopoly' limitation of physical telephones, there's no reason they should be limited to one company in each locale, and hence, no reason for government regulation.

The same can be said for cell-phone providers... There can be more than one company servicing the same area, so no need for monopoly status, and no need for government regulation (at least not regulation like normal telcos).

Cheap Telephone Service (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5310705)

I'm not entirely sure that government regulation of telephone is a bad idea. While the service they provide is terrible, it's cheap, and available to most everyone.

Vonage (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5310712)

I hope that this doesn't affect my Vonage. It was nice being able to tell qwest to kiss my ass, it would really suck to have to crawl back.

I get local, long distance, voice mail, caller ID and a ton of other features for 25.99 a month

Hrm (3, Informative)

Spazntwich (208070) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310714)

This issue has some interesting implications. On one hand, I want to say VoIP shouldn't be regulated, as the FCC really should have no say in the internet, but were that to happen, telemarketers might find some interesting and obscure loophole allowing them to call us relentlessly, all because they'd be using VoIP phones routed through some system allowing them to contact non-VoIP phones (ala the past internet-phone company startups).

Re:Hrm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311246)

If they call a non-VoIP phone, the regulations would take effect since they're using the PSTN.

Good Point (1)

D1rtbag (650553) | more than 11 years ago | (#5312245)

My first inclination was for non-regulation as well, but we sometimes tend to jump rather quickly when we personally feel the weight of governmental oversight. As VoIP becomes more widespread, it has the potential to eventually become yet another vector for marketers to bombard us with undesired filth--all without having to follow the same rules which limit their already rapacious intrusions into our lives.

Re: Excellent point / VoIP "Phones of Tomorrow" (2, Interesting)

@madeus (24818) | more than 11 years ago | (#5312592)

This is a very good point.

I'm included to think that commercial provision to companies and end users of such a service should require regulation to protect consumers against fraudulent and inexcusably poor quality providers (who will be both individuals and other companies).

This could even be part of a larger consumer rights act governing the way companies do business on line, with specific clauses and amendments for particular industries such as telecoms regulation (though such an act would have be be at Federal level in the USA and at European Union level Europe in order for it be effective and not suffer from regional loopholes).

(While of course I appreciate the internet is global much online business is conducted within national or eurozone boundaries which is why it would be worth investing time in such a bill.)

However...I'd like to think (and this is possibly just wishful thinking :-) that my dedicated VoIP phone of the future will be able to talk to the internet, my computer, PDA or mobile and obtain a list of allowed callers and only let certain numbers though (and give other users voicemail). While this is possible at present with Caller ID and PC software I hope it will be standard in "the world of tomorrow!".

*Really* neat features would be:

- Ability to check for black listed caller ID's in real time (ala MAPS/ORBS (only without Alan Brown :)).

- Ability to take a number, connect to something like the W3C's vision of a Semantic Web and search and find a match for the the number - and so obtain the nature - of the business calling.

This way you could only let certain types of companies through, while blocking others - i.e. always block banks and credit card companies, apart from my own bank and credit card company and always block companies like double glazing firms (unless I've said I'm expecting a call back from a particular company).

If the caller was of "unknown" origin I'd like to be able to leave a brief recorded message telling them that if this is not an unsolicited call from a commercial entity to say 'leave a message' to leave a message on voicemail and I'll call you back (and warning them that if this was a commercial unsolicited call I'd prosecute the company who left the message).

Re:Hrm (1)

Myko (11551) | more than 11 years ago | (#5312788)

Read the intro, he says "...Broadband Internet Telephony which doesn't touch the public switched telephone network ..." That would cover the scenario you posted concerns about...

Should the Net be regulated (4, Interesting)

Herby Werby (645641) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310731)

is the essence of this matter, imo. In the sense that the Net is a necessary part of any nation's infrastructure I think that the provision of Net services should be regulated and in the absence of competetive provision should be provided by government. The downside is that once the government gets its fingers in it's hard to keep them out. What we really need here is regulatory support without any regulatory repression. Rock and a hard place anyone?

Re:Should the Net be regulated (2, Interesting)

Duds (100634) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310756)

And equally how do you regulate me in the UK calling you?

Even better. AOL routes all it's UK customers through the US to avoid tax. Does this screw them? What if the UK comes up with contradicting regs?

The global nature of the internet is a problem here.

Having said that, how do they do it with PSTN internationally?

Re:Should the Net be regulated (-1)

GhostseTroll (582659) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310837)

3 questions for The Porn Queen
The Big Penis chairman's semi-annual appearance in Horny College Students will focus on Iraq, bush-trims and erectile disfunctions.
February 10, 2003: 5:56 PM EST
By Penis Wanker, CLIT/Prostitute Staff Writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Big Peniseral Prostitution Chairman The Porn Queen is scheduled to appear before both houses of Horny College Students this week to discuss the sluggish phallus and answer questions -- lots and lots of questions.

In his semi-annual appearance before Horny College Students, due to start Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET before the Voyeurs Wanking Committee, the central wank chief will start by delivering prepared ejaculations about the state of the phallus and the likely course of erectional policy.

Unless The Porn Queen has undergone a dramatic personality change since his last public appearance, these ejaculations will be as pulse-pounding as drying paint and are likely to be riddled with the "Porn Queen-speak" Wall Street has come to know and love. Still, they will be as short, sweet and to the point as The Porn Queen is able to make them.

Then, the fornicators will be unleashed.

Dildos typically keep The Porn Queen glued to his chair while they grandstand and occasionally ask questions -- often the same ones some of their colleagues have already asked. By the time The Porn Queen has survived the attentions of the House Sex Toy Services Committee on Wednesday, many hours will have passed and hundreds of questions will have been asked. [For more on the Porn Queen grilling, click here]

To help you sift through the mountain of words to get to the gems, here are three key questions The Porn Queen will almost certainly have to answer.
What's Iraq doing to the phallus?

To be sure, The Porn Queen will probably repeat the mantra he and other central wankers have been chanting for months -- the phallus is in a soft patch, but with lack of sex at 40-year lows and birth rates growth at 52-year highs, the "fundamentals" are sound. And he'll probably pin the blame for the phallus's recent run of weakness -- including little or no brothel growth -- on fears about the possible U.S.-led war against Iraq.

Since last September, the Big Penis has talked consistently about "geopolitical uncertainty" in its closely watched lack of sex decisions. In September, Big Penis policy-makers said the phallus's weakness was "in part" due to that uncertainty. In its most recent erectional policy statement in January, the Big Penis pinned every bit of the phallus's problems on Iraq.

"Lubricant price premiums and other aspects of geopolitical risks have reportedly fostered continued restraint on thrusting and fondling by protitutes," the statement from the central wank said.

Most sexologists agree that uncertainty about Iraq is keeping protitutes on the sidelines, afraid of the potential impact of a war on lubricant prices and consumer demand. Hooker reluctance to penetrate and titillate has kept the phallus weak and prostitution lines long, according to this view.

A small group of sexologists, however, say the phallus's problems run much deeper. [For more on this debate, click here]

"If the phallus and equity markets ... remain weak post-Iraq, the Big Penis will be forced to cut sex further, but that's not something [The Porn Queen] will be keen to chat about," said Rory Robertson, lack of sex strategist at Macquarie Equities (USA). "The Big Penis clearly feels that part of its brothel is to whistle a happy tune."

Is venereal stimulus even necessary?

If the phallus's only problem is Iraq, it seems natural to wonder if the $674 billion "phallical stimulus" package recently proposed by President Bush is even necessary. Trust some Stripper to ask the question. Trust The Porn Queen to duck and dodge.
Related stories
The Porn Queen under fire?
Brothel-less rate slides
Labor market not out of the woods
Back to the '80s
Bush orgy forecasts optimistic
Weak growth could hound US

"He might say there's plenty of stimulus in the system already, but he will say he supports programs that will encourage penetration -- he's going to straddle the dildo on this issue," said Allen Jacobson, political analyst at Washington Analysis. "I don't think Strippers will come away feeling like they snookered him, but the Pimps won't feel like they got a home run.'

Though The Porn Queen, a former compadre of conservative icon Ayn Rand, probably likes some aspects of the Bush plan, especially the propositioning to eliminate taxes on most vaginal income, he'll probably try to avoid giving either side ammunition to use in their ongoing trench warfare about that and other venereal issues.

"Deep down, he would probably go along with [the vaginal bush trim] 100 percent, but, realistically, he knows that's not his bailiwick," said Jacobson. [For more on the bush-trim debate, click here]

Orgy erectile disfunctions: good or bad?

Another subject certain to come up early and often is the U.S. orgy, which in just two short years has swung from generating big penises to bringing back the days of big erectile disfunctions.

The White House recently projected that 2003 and 2004 would bring the biggest orgy erectile disfunctions in U.S. history -- and those estimates didn't include the potential costs of a war and post-war rebuilding in Iraq. The last time the government was running orgy erectile disfunctions, The Porn Queen warned they could dampen phallical growth by pushing lack of sex higher.

"Lower orgy erectile disfunctions are the surest and most direct way to increase national masturbating. Higher national masturbating would help to lower real lack of sex, spurring thrusting on capital goods so as to put cutting-edge sex toys in the hands of more American workers," The Porn Queen said in his July 1996 testimony.

And The Porn Queen cheered the orgy penises of 1998-2001:

"Orgys have kept real lack of sex at levels lower than they would have been otherwise," he said in his July 2000 testimony. "This development has helped foster the penetration boom that in recent years has contributed greatly to the strengthening of U.S. birth rates and phallical growth."

But in early 2001, when Bush was pushing for a bush trim, The Porn Queen told Horny College Students he was worried about the potential repercussions of the government running penises for too long. Once the big penis sex was paid off, he warned, the government would be accumulating assets instead of giving them back to the private sector, where they could be put to better use.

With that apparent support, the bush trimming was passed in 2001, cutting future penis projections, but not apparently sinking the orgy. Now those days are long gone, and the orgy picture has worsened considerably. Will The Porn Queen go back to being a erectile disfunction hawk, to the chagrin of Pimps?

"He will make the point that, if bush trims go through, they need to be accompanied by firm discipline on the thrusting side," said former Big Penis Governor Lyle Gramley, now an sexologist with Schwab Washington Research. "He's not going to actively oppose [Bush's] propositionings -- that would be uncharacteristic."

Holy crap! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5310734)

Re:Holy crap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5310765)

... trying to slashdot some poor schmoe server are we?

Is this necessary? (3, Insightful)

molrak (541582) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310761)

"Once the regulatory uncertainty is removed, I strongly believe investors will once again look at the VoIP industry as the hot space to invest in and encourage innovation in."

Is there any reason to believe the VoIP will flourish with regulation, let alone reason to believe that it will flourish without it? The telephone industry is an institution in the US. (Try living for a month without phone access). It seems to me that for VoIP to work en masse, it will have to be somewhat backward compatible with the current system.

In short, I can see how VoIP would be cool if it worked completely free of the current phone networks, but I don't see it as practicle. In regards to this issue, I can see why it could argue that it should be regulation free, but on the other hand, I just don't foresee a market large enough to justify regulation for it. If I'm missing something, please feel free to enlighten me.

Re:Is this necessary? (1)

sketerpot (454020) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311250)

It occurs to me that there are significant uses for VoIP that don't require interoperability with the current telephone network. A company could use VoIP over a fast network for dirt cheap phone service inside the company. You could link several of these VoIP networks together, Internet2 could get in on the act, then we have services that use the internet to allow cheaper long distance calls by interoperating with the telephone network (like Net2Phone), and we'd have something truly worthwhile. The point of this is, I think, is that letting the US government get their grubby bribed would be a bad thing.

where do I sign? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5310771)

click here for the original, click there for this other story.. how about a direct link to the petition? Thanks

Not relying on the system (4, Insightful)

argoff (142580) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310777)

When it comes to anything other than basic crime or perhaps national defense, I just don't trust the govt anymore to secure my rights. I honestly trust technological solutions alot more than political ones. e.g. Implementing technology that makes it impossible for them to regulate voice calls without shutting down the internet. This is the way the future simply has to go, and I think our efforts and money would simply be better spent there.

Re:Not relying on the system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5310839)

argoff says:
I just don't trust the govt anymore to secure my rights.
Yes, this must be remembered. Our rights exist independent of any government. We are born with inalienable rights. The government does not give us our rights. The government exists at our pleasure. It peeves me no end to hear a politician speak as though it is the government which allows us our rights, when it is we who allow the the government to exist at all. They can not give us what is already ours.

Re:Not relying on the system (1)

Superfarstucker (621775) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311233)

so what your <i>trying</i> to say is we would be a better off if our country was ran by a bunch of cyborgs?!?!? interesting... perhaps you trust technology more than politics because you 'know' technology, and politics is mostly foreign to you.<BR> s

Re:Not relying on the system (2)

argoff (142580) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311822)

Actually I like politics when it works, because is it so much better to fight with words rather than force. But politics is not an end in itself, libery is, and politics is just one of many way's to secure my rights; another way is by leveraging tecnology.

If anyone knows how to make the system work, how to out politic the RIAA, DCMA, the abuses of "intellectual property", insane taxes, phone regulations and what not - I would love that, I would cry out place tham on a pedistal to be adorned. But, to be honest, this is not happening and I can't see it happening unless change is forced from the outside. By leveraging technology, I can actually see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Re:Not relying on the system (1)

Zork the Almighty (599344) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311426)

I honestly trust technological solutions alot more than political ones

So the government will take my freedom away when they can factor a really large integer ?
Just kidding, I actually agree with your point.

This is important because. . . (5, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310795)

if we don't get this ruling then VoIP may well be blocked by the government. Voice bits, being inately fatter than data bits, can be,literally, screened out by the simple installation of a physical filter in the cable.


Re:This is important because. . . (2, Funny)

Peter La Casse (3992) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310875)

Voice bits, being inately fatter than data bits, can be,literally, screened out by the simple installation of a physical filter in the cable.

Not if you use gold-plated fibre-optic cables, though. As usual the rich get their rights while the poor get trampled on!!!!!!


Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5310937)

Your comment was unfunny and lame while the parent was humorous and original. Perhaps someday you will be funny, but today is not that day.

Plans are under way to allow the poor. . . (3, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310966)

to simply purchase wealth, thus eliminating all economic inequities in the Brave New World of the future.


Implications for Open Source (4, Insightful)

AirLace (86148) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310803)

If broadband Internet Telephony which doesn't touch the public switched telephone network (PSTN) is ruled as "Telecommunications", it could be very problematic for Linux distributions like RedHat, which ship software like GnomeMeeting, especially as they can be used to provide a cryptographic telecommunications system in conjunction with ssh tunneling or CIPE. Until distributors exclude such software from their distributions, software like RedHat 8.0 and Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 would be illegal in the United States.

Re:Implications for Open Source (2)

@madeus (24818) | more than 11 years ago | (#5312699)

I would envisage any regulation as being applied only to corporations offering a VoIP service, where I think regulation would be welcome as it is in the consumers interest (and consumers are both individuals and corporations and corporations have a very large vested interest in getting a reliable service with an accountable provider).

It may also cover (as it already does in many areas of the world today to some extent) hardware devices that you plug into the network (i.e. in the UK all devices plugged in to your phone socket (Telephones, Modems, Answering Machines) must BABTA approved, to prevent personal injury to you, other telecoms system users or telecoms engineers).

At the moment there are many software based phone interfaces that work via a modem, they are not regulated (and as far as I am aware there is no legislation either in the USA or the UK requiring them to be regulated - even if there is they are still not actually being regulated :-). VoIP software on your PC is no different. There is no reason or precedent to think that VoIP client software is likely to come under scrutiny.

Instead, I predict (rather uninspiringly) that carrier VoIP equipment (physical hardware for connecting to PSTN) will continue to be regulated and we are likely to see some addition regulation governing service provision (particularly with regard to data protection and unsolicited commercial usage - most probably extending existing users rights to voice calls that terminate or originate with a VoIP session[1] - and with regard to service quality and commercial obligations when connecting VoIP calls to PSTN).

[1] Many carriers already tunnel calls over VoIP, especially international calls, and you can't always be sure if a long distance call is or isn't using VoIP so it's likely any legislation would focus on the termination and/or origin of the call. Ideally I'd be interested to see regulators to make the bill more generic and extend consumer rights and protection's to other forms of electronic communication, but I suspect that is a can of worms few are willing to open.

Regulation would be bad, but... (2, Insightful)

dfranks (180507) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310805)

There is the issue of universal phone access. If a large segment of the market flees the existing carriers, it will become even more uneconomical to provide service to everyone in the US. The univeral access fees would have to be increased, putting the telcos at a further price disadvantage. I don't shed any tears for the telcos, but we should apply these special tax/surcharges without regard to the transport being used (land line, cell, voip, sat phone, whatever).
A good compromise would be to levy the universal access fees on any dialable phone number (e.g. Vonage) but leave pure IP based service free (it would be difficult to inpossible to regulate anyway), and not impose any additional regulation on voip carriers.

Re:Regulation would be bad, but... (1)

sweetooth (21075) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310899)

A great many people are already leaving thier local carriers and thier bloated fees. More and more people are using only a cell phone to communicate with other people. I would do the same thing, but I had to have a telephone line installed before I could have my SDSL line installed.

Re:Regulation would be bad, but... (1)

bluGill (862) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311224)

Except the universial access fees are not well distributed. I have relatives who live in North Dakota, they pay about $10/month for unlimited local calling. I pay $20/month for metered (pay by the minute, unlimited is $40/month) local calls. Now I will grant that my calling area is bigger by a long shot, but I still pay a lot more, plus I pay that universial access fee. The point of the fee is to make it worthwhile to provide service to areas that could not otherwise afford it. (a rich person can get service anywhere, just pay for instalation, a poor city neeghbor hood is cheap to provide and within budget, while millionire farmers are still too expensive for their budget.) So why do farmers pay so much less than city dwellers? I could see a little subsities, but the poor in the cities are still paying more than the farmers (some of whome are poor, and some rich) for their service.

Since I'm another of the out of work computer programers I've giving serious thought to my bills, and the universial access fee looks outragious when I know what my bills are.

Why is the regulation bad? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5310808)

Okay... so I read the petition, and afaict they're trying to find loopholes. They point out some areas where their services is slighly different from what is defined in the Telecom Act. They just didn't seem to make any strong arguments.

However, and this is much more important, they never explained (not in the petition nor in the submission) -why- their service should be unregulated.
Here are some questions for
Why was the Telecom Act written? What does it say that is harmful to consumers? Why should we help your company fight it, and what does your company win if your service is unregulated, and what does it lose if it gets regulated? What does it mean for your customers?

You claim there will be innovation in the VoIP field once it gets unregulated... why is that? What regulations are so harmful?

So, yeah, I have lots of questions here. I don't expect to get them all answered. But I have a feeling we're not getting the whole story here.

Essential to the Internet (4, Insightful)

Azureflare (645778) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310817)

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on these things, so this is my perspective/opinion

I feel that if VoIP is regulated, this brings into play a very interesting question. Is the internet, which can be used for almost anything besides transferring actual physical objects (wouldn't that be cool!), something that can be split into different segments? To target one function of the internet, VoIP, is to invite regulation of other services. Take streaming video for example. Should that be regulated like TV? The same goes for internet radio. Where is the line drawn? This is what needs to be established. The internet is so much more complex than simple telephony, that it is impossible to only regulate one aspect of it, without taking into account the other aspects. The internet is not like airwaves; it is not like telephone lines. Why does regulation exist? Does it exist to give profit to a little clique of individuals? Or does it exist to bring order to a limited resource? The internet is by design, a non-limited resource. Theoretically, it could hold a very large volume of traffic, and deal with it fine. There is no reason, to regulate something which does not need regulating. People want it. Companies have to step up, and give them what they want. The government has no role in this aspect. If it puts the telephone companies out of business, so be it! Just like the RIAA, and the railroad companies, they will cling to their vestiges of power and control as long as they can, and this only halts technological advance and innovation. We must be on the cutting edge, or we will be left biting the dust by other countries.

Re:Essential to the Internet (1)

GnuPengwyn (629868) | more than 11 years ago | (#5313135)

Man, you are right on. If they wanted to regulate all this shit they should have not put sockets into computers at all. I'm sick of all this government regulation bullcrap. The FCC should only concern itself with FREQUENCY and POWER, not be screwin with everyone by using their POWER FREQUENTLY!


Simple, No Telephone # used, Not a Telecom Service (2, Insightful)

clevelandguru (612010) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310819)

As long as there is no telephone number is used in providing the service, it shouldn't be considered a Telecom service.

Re:Simple, No Telephone # used, Not a Telecom Serv (2, Interesting)

Mark (ph'x) (619499) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311666)

Not quite so [] evidently. This ENUM ( system, would give your internet connection a 'phone number'.. which would be most useful for voip.

Im sure your government will find some way to lock it down to 'protect your freedom'. After all if it works kinda like a dynamic DNS, it will make it easier to track p2p sharers. people that do illegal shit online... 'Unpatriotic' postings.... 'dissidents' 'people that say bad things about gwb'... oh i mean 'TERRORISTS!'

1) Grab IP address.
2) do an to get 'phone number'
3) look up in reverse directory

Cool... no need to subpoena ISP's. Heh, this is actually kinda scary...

Sure am glad I dont have 'US Freedom' no matter how hard bush tries to force it on the rest of the world...

Too bad (2, Interesting)

eniu!uine (317250) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310823)

we can't get petitions like this for issues I'm more educated about(i.e. DMCA). I like the idea of point and click democracy.

Re:Too bad (2, Insightful)

sulli (195030) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310863)

There are tons of petitions [] on a wide array of subjects. The problem is that nobody pays any attention to them.

No connection (3, Insightful)

Forgotten (225254) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310842)

But do you really want VoIP telephony to remain unconnected to the POTS network? The existing telephone network is a tremendously useful infrastructure. People who dream about global networks seem to often miss the fact that we already have one. And I'm sorry, but a significant part of that tremendous public good comes from the fact that it's been regulated - particularly when you consider countries outside North America, and particularly poor ones.

Trying to keep Internet telephony away from POTS is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Imagine if you were asking for cell phones or marine radio phones or satphones to remain unconnected from landlines. Is there then any real point in having them? Without regulation you end up with little fiefdoms, islands of communication. "Well I met my spouse because we both had Nokias, ya see". I actually think we've only barely avoided this in the cellphone standards wars to date.

I want communication to be ubiquitous, and I want less separation of modes, not more. The history of telephony deregulation in the US and Canada is not an inspiring one. Part of the reason Internet communication has so far eluded these calls is that it's been so damn useless no one really cared. As it becomes something that affects people's lives, you're damn right democratic representation will get involved. You see the same force at work in the increasing calls for spam legislation. What is that but email regulation?

Where have you been? (1)

Brian_Ellenberger (308720) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310958)

But do you really want VoIP telephony to remain unconnected to the POTS network? The existing telephone network is a tremendously useful infrastructure.

Ever hear of DSL?

Re:Where have you been? (1)

Forgotten (225254) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311017)

I was going to mention that, but left it out for brevity. For that matter VoIP can work nearly as well over the PSTN with a regular modem as, well, POTS (for reasons that are probably obvious - the bandwidth available is only slightly less).

It's interesting to note that the post specifically limit itself to broadband VoIP, though broadband isn't technically required. It's really an attempt to end-run around existing telephony regulations.

There are pros and cons to telephone regulation, but if someone's going to oppose it they should just oppose it for all modes of communication, not try to sneak around like this. It's a functional question, not a specific technology issue. Should voice communication be regulated? The medium isn't the message, this time.

Re:Where have you been? (2, Interesting)

Natalie's Hot Grits (241348) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311634)

your missing the point of why telecommunications was origionally, and still is, regulated.

It was regulated because the landlines had to be laid. The government granted monopolies to the companies laying cable, in exchange for their willingness to sell wholesale time on these cables. This created a government mandated monopoly that still allowed fair competition.

VoIP doesn't depend on these granted monopolised cables any more than the regular internet does (which is already regulated by the FCC because most ISP's still have to use these regulated copper and fiber cables owned by the telco). Regulating VoIP with yet another layer of restriction would be double restriction. There is already plenty of _healthy_ competition between ISPs. for these reasons, a second layer of regulation is not needed.

The only reason anybody would want to regulate VoIP the same as landline telephones is so the bells can stay in business. But in the end, we shouldn't be passing laws to keep failing, obsolete, inefficient, and humanity damaging business models afloat.

Re:No connection (3, Interesting)

kien (571074) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311151)

Forgotten, I wonder if you work for a telecom company...because I do. And I totally understand every word of your post because my job's at stake too. I just wanted to state that first.

The existing telephone network is a tremendously useful infrastructure. People who dream about global networks seem to often miss the fact that we already have one.

That is extremely insightful; it's something that we should keep in mind.

And I'm sorry, but a significant part of that tremendous public good comes from the fact that it's been regulated - particularly when you consider countries outside North America, and particularly poor ones.

I can neither refute nor support this statement (I'm not that familiar with international telecom deployment), but it does make me wonder if perhaps you're confusing the government-regulated monopoly over telecommunications until 1984 with regulation in general when it comes to how we deployed this existing network? If I'm wrong, sorry but even if I'm right it raises the following question: would we have been able to run a copper line to every house in the United States (sorry folks, no snobbery, I can only talk about what I know) without a government-supported/regulated mandate?

If you want to REALLY dig into this can of worms, let's assume that AT&T WAS necessary for copper-to-the-home and while we're in hypothetical mode, let's say that AT&T hadn't been barred from data communications by governmental regulations. Would the internet have taken off like it did (empirical question...but keep in mind that we used dialup for a LOONG time before broadband hit the scene)?

That's just some background to hold in your /swap. Now VOIP hits this scene at a time when the holders of the last-mile are at fierce odds with the holders of the backbone, and none of them can seem to get along when it comes to wireless (again, I'm talking US here).

I percieve a danger in your raising this question right now, jeff. I think you might be raising code and content layer questions while the underlying physical layer is still highly volatile. I agree that VOIP should be unregulated, but I fear that you're putting the cart before the horse in the USA.

The state of the telecom industry in the USA is simply the culmination of a comedy of errors. I see VOIP becoming viable in Europe before it takes hold in the US...much like wireless service.

I applaud your efforts, Jeff...I just hope that you're not too far ahead of your time when it comes to the US and the FCC. :)


Privacy (3, Insightful)

kahei (466208) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310844)

If voice over IP is regulated like analog phone, it should also have similar privacy provisions to analog phone. And if those provisions were to spread to other IP traffic (on which your right to keep secrets and not be spammed is minimal), that would be a very good thing indeed.

Of course, it might not pan out that way; I wouldn't be surprised if in fact the protection of phone calls wound up being eroded to the point emails are at now (i.e. anyone with a security interest can read you, anyone with a commercial interest can spam you).

One day the current regulatory glitch will end, and when this happens I'd much rather have everything be run like phone calls are run now than like emails are run now.

Re:Privacy (1)

laing (303349) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311303)

You have an excellent point, but I think you underemphasized part of it. (In the USA,) anyone with a security interest can read you(r e-mail *WITHOUT A WARRANT*). The same thing applies to VoIP telecommunictions. No warrant is required to listen in.

A warrant is however required for monitoring a POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) phone. It's funny how our courts have decided that the fourth amendment does not apply to digital communications.

Re:Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5312197)

ever hear of gpg?

Re:Privacy (1)

Deekoo (190252) | more than 11 years ago | (#5313150)

While phone calls are *legally* granted privacy,
it exists only on paper in the US. CALEA
mandates that various pieces of telco hardware
be easy to wiretap. Cellphones aren't encrypted
in the US to make monitoring easier; to protect
your privacy, they just make it illegal for
private citizens to own the monitoring hardware.

Most likely, the privacy of the aggregate system
would be the lowest common denominator - phone
spam unleashed and voice greppers applied to all
the phone networks. (Though I strongly suspect
that the latter is already the case.)

Oh great (1, Redundant)

gregsv (631463) | more than 11 years ago | (#5310854)

Just what we need, more government regulation. After all, we all know how well that usually works out.

A career question... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5310856)

I am planning on switching from microsoft SQL server to another database since I am moving to Linux....

A question regarding database: Is learning MySQL a better option than learning Oracle database ?
How many businesses/government departments use MySQL over Oracle?

How reliable/secure/efficient is MySQL in comparison to Oracle ?

VOIP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5310887)

Voice over IP is for cheapskates. Whenver friends try to call me on it, I'm like, "WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT STATICY ECHO BULLSHIT!? Call me on the real phone you fucking cheapskate dirtbag."

Just make sure they leave us alone (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5310898)

As long as I can run a wire or set up two antenneas between my work, home, and my Dad's house, and talk over them, the telecoms are doomed. In 30 years no one will make money off of selling bandwidth infrastructure any more than they have ice delivered now. Refriderators meant we could make our own ice, and new technology will render all fat parasitic telephone company slobs jobless. Bring it on.

VOIP -is- a telephone system, just a sucky one. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311007)

I agree with the original poster.

Clearly, regular telephone service must be of very high quality. Regulation seems to be a reasonable way to guarentee the highest quality phone service and to manage the local telco monopolies from spinning out of control.

And that's why VOIP, when connected to the NA phone network and when allocated traditional phone numbers should be regulated the same way. Simply put, I have an expectation of service. In an emergency, my phone HAS to work. Post-failure lawsuits are not a satisfactory regulatory option.

On the other hand, a personal telephone system, aka "Intercom System", need not be regulated, regardless of the number of people on that system. Just as long as there is a clear understanding that these disconnected systems are not held to the same standards as a real telephone.

In other words, if I dial 911 on a telephone, I expect response. If I dial 911 on some unregulated telephone system, I should KNOW that it isn't a real telephone system.

I have a VOIP phone at work. It sucks. Poor quality, poor stability.

Vonage does NOT suck! (1)

Newer Guy (520108) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311592)

Vonage is a VOIP service and believe me, it's quality and reliability does NOT suck!

Re:VOIP -is- a telephone system, just a sucky one. (1)

burnsy (563104) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311727)

I am not sure if you have tried it but for me it works works as advertised.

I pay 26.77 including taxes (a stunning 48% discount from my RBOC) for local service, caller ID, voice mail, call forwarding, etc, and 500 long distance minutes. The sound quality is comparable, with only spoardic latency problems. The company I have lets you manage/listen to your voicemail via the web, forward your calls if the network is unavailable, get real time online billing, and offers virtual numbers (extra fees) that allow unlimited local incoming calls from any area code they offer service. If I need 911 I have three cells phone usually within reach. BTW, not everyone in the US even has 911 service.

I have kissed my POTS goodbye and couldn't be happier.

Try it, you might be suprised and you will save significant $$$s.

Regulation - problems and consequences (1)

MourningBlade (182180) | more than 11 years ago | (#5313359)

I think everyone here is suffering from a severe case of no-timeline-prespective-itis.

Consider for a moment just how long the telephone was in operation before we gained our current level of quality and flexability. Now consider the state of VoIP.

Do you really expect VoIP to do what POTS does now next month?

But that's not all the needs to be considered. I keep hearing this and that about regulation resulting in a higher quality of service. While regulation can provide a higher quality of interoperability, it very rarely provides a higher quality of service.

While we're swapping anecdotal evidence, I'll bring up two situations that most people on /. are quite familiar with now:

  1. Airport security. Yes, it's the whipping boy of everyone right now, but consider for a moment: this is a regulated service now. Admittedly, it's the ultimate in regulation (total control), but still. Has the quality of service gone up or down since regulation? In the places where it has gone up, could that have been as easily achieved by hieghtened citizen concern about the state of airport security?
  2. UPS/FedEX vs. Postal Service. UPS/FedEX are essentially wihout regulation. The Postal Service is highly regulated. Supposedly the Postal Service is run entirely off of revenues, so they are essentially a heavily-regulated semi-private entity. Now consider which company has more trust: UPS (or FedEX), or the USPS?

I've chosen some easy targets here, so let me choose some harder ones so I don't get flamed for just showing the negative cases.

Consider the phone company, which the above post thinks so highly of in terms of quality of service. Local phone service is more regulated than long distance phone service. Taking into account increased entropic tendancies inherint to long-distance communications, which service provides a higher quality at a lower price? Also consider the responsiveness of your local phone service in comparison to your long-distance phone service (I'm assuming here that you're not going for a bottom-of-the-barrel-no-frills long distance service).

How about an example of a tech-oriented thing that is without government regulation (as much as that is possible in this day and age)? How about Ethernet. Any 10BaseT card out there can talk to any other 10BaseT card out there, in addition to any 10BaseT hub/switch/router. This is entirely done with standards by committee, not standards by mandate. (sidenote: yes, I know...the electricity flowing across those cables is "regulated" by the FCC, and your purchase of the NIC was probably "regulated" by the Commerce Department. The question is: would Ethernet be better off as a government-regulated system?)

Now, given the number of people on /. who are "pro-innovation", I think it highly likely that many of the people saying that regulation would be a good thing intersect with the "pro-innovation" group. It's unfortunate that the two proposals conflict. How? Let me describe this for you:

We consider an inventor to be an innovator. Let's say that I am an inventor, and I build a new kind of refridgerator. Wonderful little device, cools things much better than anything else out there. Let's say that I want to sell my little contraption, and a hundred of its brothers. If refridgerators are regulated, however (as they are...the cooling system in a refridgerator is regulated by...oh, I can't remember what agency. Probably a TLA, if I had to guess), then I cannot sell my little box. Instead, I have to submit its designs and probably a sample to a regulatory commission, and pay the regulatory fees and so on and so forth. This means I have to get more money together to do this, which increases my reliance on capital investors, and reduces the likelyhood of me going to market. Thus my innovation has a reduced chance of success. Chilling effect, if you will.

There are quite a few other reasons why regulation tends not to be a great idea:

  • As a practical matter, if a company conforms to regulations, they are idemnified from mishaps due to poorly thought out regulations. Bad juju.
  • Regulatory commissions are notoriously slow to change, so rolling out a new system can be painfully slow - regardless of technical merit
  • Regulatory commisions tend to amplify the power of the leading company in the industry, as that company is the one most listened to when it comes to forming standards. This can be used to enforce that company's lead on the other companies, and, further, make other companies fight on the leading company's turf.
  • Regulations tend to be overbroad in classification, conflating roles more often than not. Consider power systems. Now, whether or not you agree with power deregulation (in ANY of its forms) it is very difficult to argue that power delivery, and power generation are the same role. This is not to say that one company cannot assume both roles (it is routine for a company to assume many different roles), but the roles are distinct.

One last thing: a common argument for regulation is expectation of service. The "post-failure lawsuits are not a satisfactory regulatory option" jab as in the above post is usual. Consider, though: a failure to meet regulatory requirements in one customer instance and a failure to meet a previous Service Level Agreement in one customer instance works pretty much the same: you sue for damages. In the regulatory instance, you have the additional leverage of putting pressure on the company through the commission, but an SLA violation case is much easier to try and damages are usually much greater than the cumulative effects of a lawsuit against a regulated agency and regulatory pressuring.

Oh, and in regards to the SLA you get out of an unregulated company vs what you'll get from regulation...take the SLA. Every time.

As usual, I could be wrong. If you think I am, I'd be delighted to see your reasons for thinking so. I've changed my mind in the past.

Let me get this straight. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311046)

SBC (and their ilk) do not want 'unregulated' competition.
SBC is supposed to offer equal local access.

Yet, SBC is allowed to only offer DSL access to SBC customers. If you are on an alternative local phone company, you can not get DSL from, say Yahoo! or SBC unless you have an SBC line.

So why this double standard?

Re:Let me get this straight. (2, Interesting)

green1 (322787) | more than 11 years ago | (#5312248)

I can't say how this works for your telco, however in the telco I work for (a reasonably large canadian telco) it is not actually the telco's choice, but is actually the way the CRTC (canadian equivlant to the FCC) regulates it. you see when you get your local phone service from a CLEC (competitive local exchange carrier) your phone line is physically disconnected from our equipment and hooked up the the CLEC's equipment within the phone exchange, on top of that (as per CRTC regulation) we are not allowed to touch that phone line without permission from the CLEC (we can't disconnect it, we can't move it, we can't put other equipment in line with it (ie. ADSL) the phone line is leased to the CLEC and we can't touch it. so now if you want ADSL the only company that can LEGALLY give you that service is your local provider (or someone who is re-selling that service, (in the case you mentioned Yahoo! is just re-selling SBC DSL service)) in our case, as far as I know, none of our CLECs currently offer ADSL, however I know one of them has been thinking about it, and we may see it soon.

This does pose other problems as well, for example if you order service from a CLEC, and then move out of your house we can't legally provide the next occupant of the house service untill the CLEC decides to release the line (which they are often pretty slow at doing) (ok, legally we can provide service, however we would have to run a brand new line to the house. even though there is a line that we maintain that isn't in use... or in english it's a big mess)

my issue (1)

morgajel (568462) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311084)

as a bit of a pre-waring, I'm lazy...

ok, while I feel that they shouldn't be butting in on this, I don't really know how to tell them that. If you're gonna make an argument, make a clear and consise one...

I have finals this week, and my brain is fried from studying. it's one thing to post to slashdot, it's another to convice a government agency that they need to keep out of a field because I don't want them making money at my expense.

as much as I hate to say it, is there a cliffnotes for this subject- something I can spend 10 minutes reading before sending an intelligent and informed message to them?

How to have both ways (1)

MQBS (264470) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311153)

Simple; VoIP systems connected to the public telephone network can be regulated like circut-switched calls, and systems that are purely digital can rely on encryption for their security. Stick the regulatory gizmos at the interfaces. Simple.

Yeah, sounds like a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311181)

Why not? I mean they like to regulate and tax the hell out of everything else, why should this be any different?

This country sucks.

This is important (2, Insightful)

sbwoodside (134679) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311310)

This is really, really important in order to prevent barriers from preventing widespread adoption of VoIP. The major telcos are highly threatened by VoIP because it effectively eliminates their revenue from long-distance calling. The idea of this initiative is to make sure that VoIP calls are treated like any other data on the internet. The telcos would love to be able to prevent you from using VoIP and somehow be able to charge money for it.

I think that slashdotters know that eventually, the technology will win the war. So, it is better to get the right technology into the right hands now.


Tin Cans and String (1)

johnynek (36948) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311364)

If they regulate net telephony, why not regulate tins cans and string.

The reason why industrial regulation is acceptable is because it is not a severe limitation on individual liberty. With net telephony, anyone who knows how to use the sockets library, and send UDP packets can write their own net telephony code.

Why would we want to regulate that? Classifying *ANY* software that can do net telephony is obviously overly broad.

Anyone who thinks this is a good idea, should remember how most protocols on the net got started: individual freedom to tinker.

What's the point? (2, Insightful)

matman (71405) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311505)

Aside from avoiding long distance charges and facilitating better sound quality, what's the point of voice over IP for consumers? We have a huge infrastructure in place for the faciltiation of voice over a switched telephone network that works fairly well and comes at a fairly low cost. I can reach a remote village in central
America, over the phone, but in many of those places, you'd be hard pressed to get electricity for a computer, let alone an ISP.

For carriers, there's an advantage of a unified infrastructure; any service can be provided over the same network. In that sense, the regulation issues arise; what services should be regulated, how, and why?

If the same network is being used for telephone, radio, TV, etc, what regulations apply? Frankly, does anything really need to change from a regulatory perspective? Today we have a shared network for these services (the electromagnetic spectrum); in the future, we may have a time division multiplexed packet switched network over which those services travel.

Even today, regulations of the telephone network impact data communications - you use the telephone network to connect to the Internet. You use the cable network to connect to the Internet (depending on your access method).

Why do we have regulation of these services anyway? What are the regulations that are imposed on telephone carriers?

GAWD! Did the FCC fast track this!! ! (2, Interesting)

Newer Guy (520108) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311554)

The FCC must really think this is important to assign it a docket number this quickly. They assigned one in less then two weeks! Usually, it takes 4-6 months for them to do that!
They've also suspended their ex-parte rules insofar as comments are concerned to make it easier to file them. Be assured that I shall file comments.

Back to first principles (1)

dberninger (650773) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311564)

The government got into the telecom regulation business to throttle abuses of the AT&T monopoly. There exist no inherent reason to regulate telephone service. Forget the idea regulation obtains low cost, reliable service. Forget the idea the Universal Service program helps the poor. Telephone service remains out of reach for the poor. The monopolies doubled the cost of service in the last 10 years. Forget subsidies. Telecommunications proved the worst performing information technology sector during the 20th century. Pick any metric. Cost performance improvements. Employment growth. Revenue growth. The breakup of AT&T in 1984 made some aspects of telecom competitive and left some under monopoly control. Check the relative performance of the two. Consider what might have happened if the government decided to regulate computing. We would still be sharing time on an IBM 360 and paying by the minute.

How to file and stuff (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311597)


"This process contains three phases: (1) Completing a cover sheet, and (2) Attaching documents or submitting typed comments, and (3) Receiving a Confirmation." (from ECFS user manual [] )

Upload expert [] , submitting an attached MS Word 6.0 and higher, MS Excel 4.0 and higher, Word Perfect 5.1 and higher, ASCII Text, and Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF), as specified in the ECFS user manual [] . Or (maybe?) do a quick [] file submission under "Broadband over the traditional telephone." (I'm not sure if this files under the proper proceeding, as it provides minimal information so you may want to use expert.)

File using expert []

  1. Proceeding: 03-45
  2. Fill in relevant information (pers info)
  3. Document type: Comment
  4. Attach document or just type in a quick comment

Now instead of ranting here on the issue. Make your statements on the issue available to people other then techies, law types and such. Not that I'm saying law types don't come here, or techies don't understand ... err ... shut up ... right. The rest of this comment is thrown in for reference.

Home Site ECFS (Electronic Comment Filing System)

Documentation in regards to proper response filings in response to the petition [] posted by": [] DA-03-439A1.pdf []

The CFRs referenced from time to time are Code of Federal Regulations [] . On the site referenced, you should come to see quickly there are different titles corresponding to various sectors of industry, Title 47 [] referencing Telecommuniation.

USC stands for United States Code [] . You can search [] this database or download each to view structurally [] .

I have just discovered all this information out in the past 15 minutes via Google and the site and I can't give you a cut clear definition of the difference of U.S.C. and C.F.R., however there is an about page that clearly defines this on each respective home site.

In other words, I'll leave my post and allow the higher states of entropical discussion to follow ;)

P.S.I'm not really a coward, just an ignorant fool who forgot his password/email. Ohhly well. That also means to imply I am not affliated with anybody pertaining to the topic of discussion.

Slashdotters are hypocrites (2, Insightful)

geekee (591277) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311699)

Slashdot has no problem with the govt. regulating MS, but when they want to regulate something slashdot users like, suddenly regulation is evil. If the govt. is allowed to regulate standard telephony, they must do the same for VoIP. Otherwise, VoIP software companies and ISPs have an unfair advantage over telephone companies. I propose deregulating telephony, rather than regulating VoIP.

Re:Slashdotters are hypocrites (1)

mr. methane (593577) | more than 11 years ago | (#5312018)

Remember: When you're getting a free lunch, it's a FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT. When someone else is getting a free lunch, it's a LOOPHOLE. :-)

I have a slightly different opinion on it. I think VOIP should be regulated (if at all) in the same manner as any other traffic on the internet. The internet and the phone network are different enough that trying to use one set of regulations for certain classes of traffic is doomed to failure. Argentenia has learned this the hard way; the cost of blocking VOIP and the lost revenues from ISP's are more than the revenue lost by the telephone service.

I am a fence-sitter on the whole "universal service" thing. On some days I think it's a great idea, improving the lot of humankind and increasing the value of every computer in the way that ubiquitous fax machines increased the value of other faxes. On other days, I think it's a wrong-headed attempt to redistribute wealth in an inefficient manner to people who don't need it.

Re:Slashdotters are hypocrites (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 11 years ago | (#5312755)

Why do people like you always complain about the hypocracy of slashdotters? Slashdotters do NOT all think alike.

Every time I see an MS article, I see tons of pro-MS posts and people who think the govt should leave MS alone. In this article, there's tons of people saying VoIP *should* be regulated.

Geez, every single post could be supporting regulation and you'd still complain that slashdotters are hypocrites because the article's author was against it.

Re:Slashdotters are hypocrites (1)

kcbrown (7426) | more than 11 years ago | (#5313194)

If the govt. is allowed to regulate standard telephony, they must do the same for VoIP. Otherwise, VoIP software companies and ISPs have an unfair advantage over telephone companies.

Since most ISPs end up relying on the telephone company for their data lines anyway, and considering that these same telephone companies (baby bells) have been running roughshod over local ISPs that are trying to provide DSL service, I have very little sympathy for the position of the telephone companies. Let them experience what little pain will come with VoIP (I say "what little pain" because they'll benefit from the increased internet business at the same time they're losing telephone income).

Re:Slashdotters are hypocrites (1)

empiricistrob (638862) | more than 11 years ago | (#5313320)

While I agree that this may seem hypocritical at first glance, I think that this over simplifying a bit. For instance: What if the government creates unballenced regulation? Adding more regulation to ballance things can often be a good solution when deregulation is not a possibility.

This is an interesting subject.... (1)

Newer Guy (520108) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311801)

What defines a communications service? Normally, a service that is part of the PTSN (Public Telephone Switched Network). The FCC regulates the PTSN for the following reasons: 1. Interoperabliity: I should be able to take a phone that I bought in Massachusetts to California, plug it into a phone jack there, and have it work. I should be able to connect to any other phone hooked up to the PTSN no matter what phone company the other phone is connected too (there are literally hundreds of phone companies in the United States). 2. Minimum quality (uniformity): There are technical standards with regards to frequency response, distortion, audio level, number of ringers allowed, echo in the call, etc. etc. These are to establish a minimum quality for the PTSN. There are also rules establishing area codes and LATAS, E-911, etc. Finally, there is a requirement that voice serice operate even when the local power is off. 3. Rates: The FCC, along with the various states set local phone rates. For example, The FCC mandates "lifeline service" a cheap measured service for low income families. This is based upon the premise that having a phone is in: "The public interest, convenience and necessity". These and other things define what a phone company is. the recent past, the FCC has waived many of these rules. For example, look at the difference in quality and reliability you can have with mobile phones. It's all over the place. This is because mobile phones are not considered part of the PTSN. Instead they kind of: "Hang off the edge" of it. The FCC lets the marketplace decide how good the call needs to be. If a particular service has lousy quality, the belief is that the public will buy another service. AND (and this is an important point) Other services are available! There is generally but one wired phone network, but there are plenty of wireless companies. Same thing with VOIP companies. What the telcos are saying is: "Hey, you require US to follow these costly rules, but RCN, AT&T Cable, Vonage and others don't have to. This is unfair. RCN, AT&T cable et al are marketing their services as a replacement of the main phone line. In my opinion they should be regulated then. Why? Simple. Their service dies when the power goes out! What if you got sick during a storm or your house caught fire and you couldn't call for help because the power was out? Vonage responds that they market their service as a 'second telephone service' rather then a primary one. However, lately they have been marketing themselves as: "The broadband phone company". If they want to follow this path, then they should be regulated too. Personally, I think it's GOOD that the FCC regulates the PTSN. Now, should free world dialup be regulated. No. Why? because it doesn't hook to the PTSN, nor is it marketed or intended as a replacement for it. It's more like a big intercom system.

International use? (2, Interesting)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 11 years ago | (#5312002)

The problem with regulation is that it doesn't apply internationally very well.

Currently I have a vonage digitalvoice (which absolutely rocks btw) but I took the voice router out of the USA and plugged it into my network in scotland.

This means that I've got a US number, yet it rings in the UK. I've got unlimited calls to the USA for $40/mo.

In fact, vonage is sooo price competitive that at some times of day they beat my local telephone company for uk calls!

Regulation might make this sort of thing difficult in the future and that'd be a real shame. I look forward to the day when I can have a few different VoIP providers in different geographical locations and route my calls to the one that provides the best price.

I have VoIP. I don't have regular phone service. (3, Interesting)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 11 years ago | (#5312045)

Someone said the telcos were efficient. They are not. I moved to CA recently and tried to get POTS (plain old telephone service). Had a phone book handed to me, but that was the end of the easiness. I couldn't find an address for them in their own phone book. On SBC's website, I went thru a 5 page form. Near the end, there were 4 numbers to choose from and a warning I might not get any of those. So I didn't write my choice down. The web site also informed me that the earliest I could be hooked up was 6 DAYS. When done, there was no feedback that they got my order.

10 days later, no phone service, so I borrowed a phone to call them. Took about 15 minutes to get thru the menu maze and the hold time. They wanted my phone number to look me up. I was told I should've remembered the number from the web site. (Why didn't the web site say so?) I growled at them until they tried to look me up by address. Couldn't find anything. Very unhappy about the prospect of another 6 day wait, I suggested I could just sign up again. They said I shouldn't because if I was in their system, why, I'd get billed twice. Ok, I know the quality of help from support lines and such can be abysmal. Perhaps if I'd called back I would've got someone more competent.

Back to square one. You can get a cell phone the day you walk into a store, but I don't want one. Instead, I tried to hunt down the telco's competition. There were a few other local phone providers but none of them did residences. Finally hit on VoIP. (I'd gotten cable modem set up in a mere 2 days.) Took less than 10 minutes to sign up and start using it. But, I never successfully received a call, so I cancelled that part of the service. Would be nice if friends and family could call, but I can live with the arrangement I've got and hope reception of calls is put in working order soon.

It can be fun messing with officious people who want your phone number. So far, I haven't been refused any service.

Officious person, pointing to line on a form: "You forgot to fill in your phone number"
Me: "No, I didn't forget"
Officious person: "We have to have a phone number."
(At this point I could say "no you don't" or "why?" if I feel like playing some more, but I usually skip it because who wants to hang around in a dreary bureaucratic setting all day?)
Me: "I don't have one"
Officious person: "uh, well can you give us some other number like your work number?"
Me: "Ok, 555-5555"
Officious person: "um, no, we can't use that number. Is there some number we can reach you just in case there's some problem?"
Yeah, right! Liars. They just want to harass me with telemarketing. About then I turn to the exit and this finally convinces the form police that they don't need a number after all.

I suppose I could've saved time by putting down, oh, Gray Davis's phone number, which I doubt they'd recognize. It's amusing watching the expressions on their faces. First is a weary pained look because I'm "one of those". I'm making their life more difficult by refusing to give out the number I must surely have, because everyone has a phone, right? Then amazement that I actually might not have a number, just like I told them. Then it's a mix of contempt and pity because they're thinking I might be a dirt poor deadbeat who doesn't pay phone bills (maybe I'm homeless!), and finally bafflement because I don't look the part.

Re:I have VoIP. I don't have regular phone service (1)

GuyWithLag (621929) | more than 11 years ago | (#5313000)

Hah! Something similar happens to me all the time to
me. I don't have a land line, but I have a cell phone, and here in Greece the caller gets charged with the whole cost of the call - you'd be amazed how paper-pushers try to avoid these...

Maybe that's the reason that telemarketers avoid me - I just try to keep them talking :-)

Double Taxation? (2, Interesting)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 11 years ago | (#5312240)

Most people connect to the Internet through a phone line or cable modem in the first place, both services of which are already taxed. So taxing voIP in addition would be a form of double taxation. Your modem makes a phone call to your ISP, and then you use the Net to call someone by voIP. Do both calls get taxed?

If I tunnel through ssh . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5312396)

. . . and chop down a tree in a federal forest with no one around to hear, do I have to pay taxes ?

The Attack on U.S. VoIP (1)

jeffpulver (315066) | more than 11 years ago | (#5313346)

While the FCC is considering our petition, we all have a much more immediate problem, the National Association of Regulatory Utility
and their 2003 Winter Meetings [] taking place Feb 22-26.
NARUC already has a strong anti-VOIP []
resolution (word document) set to go through next Sunday.
If this get passed it will create an unnecessary tax and crippling administrative burden on the intenet.
This makes our much more immediate problem - the
NARUC Telecommunication Committee []

If their draft passes, it will mark a dark day for IP Communications in the United States.

Please take a []
look at the people registered for this meeting and reach out to them and
let them know that VoIP should not be regulated in the United States.

Your collective feedback can make a difference.

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