The FCC has spanked an ISP for blocking VOIP calls so that the ISP’s subscribers were SOL. Addressing the SNAFU, the FCC indicated that an ISP blocking its users from accessing VOIP services is FUBAR. (How’s that for MAU? [Maximum Acronym Usage])
Seriously, the decision this week by the FCC involving North Carolina ISP Madison River Communication, and their blocking of VOIP services to their users, lead to a nolo contendre plea by Madison River, along with a $15,000 file. Nolo contendre, which essentially means “no contest”, is considered to be a plea of neither “guilty” or “not guilty”, and in one of Aunty’s favourite definitions, is defined as meaning “I didn’t do it, and I’ll never do it again.”
Madison River, which operates four telephone companies servicing rural areas of Georgia, Alabama, Illinois, and North Carolina, had been blocking the port typically used by VOIP services so that no VOIP data was able to get through – hmmm, I wonder why?
Said Chris Murray, Director of Government Affairs for VOIP provider Vonage, of a customer of a subsidiary of Madison River, “They gave no notice [to the customer]. [His Vonage service] had been working and one day he woke up and it didn’t work.”
FCC Chairman Michael Powell said that the FCC “saw a problem, and we acted swiftly to ensure that Internet voice service remains a viable option for consumers,â€œ adding that the industry “must adhere to certain consumer protection norms if the Internet is to remain an open platform for innovation.”
In a related matter, one genuine and serious problem with VOIP is the lack of the ability to make a 911 call from a VOIP line (oops). However several solutions to this problem are expected to be unveiled at the VOIP trade show which is being held in San Jose this week.