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March 4, 2005
Don't block, just "improve quality"
A while back I blogged a note that Vonage was complaining to the FCC that its VoIP signals were being blocked. Now a North Carolina telecom, Madison River Communication, has admitted to the blocking and reached a deal to stop it.
However, the issue is far from over, as Bob Cringely points out in a good column today. He notes that traffic blocking is crude and probably illegal, but improving quality of service is not. Therefore, all the big telcos/backbone providers need to do is wrap their VoIP packets with QoS headers, and set their routers to give preferential treatment to appropriately marked packets. The result will be degraded service for Vonage customers, whose packets will get left hanging on router queues.
Coincidentally it will also cause life to suck more for other stream providers such as podcasters, streaming radio, and basically every other "rich" medium that depends on timeliness and rough packet-order arrival. I imagine that once the service is up and running big companies (e.g. game networks, big movie studios) will sign up for it, further degrading the packet stream for the independents and small fry.
As I've said before, what good is a copyright on something nobody can watch? What value a revenue on content that can't reach its audience? This stuff will matter, and it will probably matter in '05 or '06 at the latest.
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