The ISPs Are Revolting! More ISPs Blocking Non-Native VoIP

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Despite the FCC ruling that ISPs may not block VoIP, some ISPs are continuing to block VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services which do not originate with them. According to reports, ClearWire, a Washington state ISP, is now blocking Vonage, basing the action on their terms of service which allow ClearWire to block the use of certain activities which result in “excessive consumption or utilization” of system or network resources.

Of course, ClearWire has itself just signed an agreement with Bell Canada to provide its own VoIP services, so this isn’t really about excessive use of bandwidth – it’s about use of bandwidth for the benefit of other VoIP providers. In other words, ClearWire, and other ISPs who are blocking Vonage and other VoIP service providers, want a piece of the action.


And that isn’t necessarily wrong, but it may be seen as anticompetitive. Does this mean that at some point that VoIP could be the camel’s nose under the tent which leads to regulation of the Internet?

ISP N2Net’s CEO, Greg Boehnlein, explains it this way: “As much as I want to see VOIP survive and thrive, I also don’t want to bear the additional cost of my customers choosing to use a competitor’s VOIP service over my own.”

And you can see his point. David McClure, president of the U.S. Internet Industry Association, puts it a bit less diplomatically when he says, of Vonage’s discussions with the FCC, “Oh, yes, we should run screaming to nanny government and get permission to stop Clearwire if we don’t like what they do.”

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Still, ISPs carry network traffic for a broad range of services offered by others which they also provide themselves. What makes VoIP different from any other high bandwidth application?

Money, of course.

No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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2 thoughts on “The ISPs Are Revolting! More ISPs Blocking Non-Native VoIP

  1. Let’s see – I have a 9 or 10 email addresses that I use for various purposes. With the exception of two I set up with my ISP (RoadRunner), all are from free email services Hotmail, Myway, Gmail, and Yahoo. Some are work related, others keep spam from my real email addresses.

    So if the ISPs can block VoIP signals legally, why can’t they block all email not from RoadRunner? Conceivably, there could be a lot of bandwidth taken up by downloading and uploading email. What about surfing on sites not related to TimeWarner (like this one)? That could be a lot of bandwidth, too.

    So, sic the regulators on the scum blocking legitimate traffic such as VoIP.

  2. The ISP’s should price their net connections with usage limits / excess charges sufficient to cover their expenses. Discounts or limit increases could be offered for customers who bundle their Net Connection & VOIP services from the ISP.

    If they are using bandwidth as an excuse, one presumes they are offering unlimited bandwidth accounts. However if this is the case then it is hardly unlimited if all high bandwidth activities are blocked.
    While it currently seems popular, blocking other providers VOIP data, is not going to be an effective long term strategy for these businesses. This sort of blocking will either die out, or the ISP’s concerned will die out when their customers get fed up and go elsewhere.

    As an aside Aunty, I think your statement:
    “Does this mean that at some point that VoIP could be the camel’s nose under the tent which leads to regulation of the Internet?”
    is a bit inaccurate. It’s not a case of the internet being regulated it is more a case of the ISP’s being regulated. The internet itself cannot easily be regulated due to the extensive number of countries and legal jurisdictions involved. The ISP’s however can be significantly regulated by the authorities presiding over their jurisdiction. One cannot state that the internet has been regulated just because legislation or regulation is implemented in the US.
    OK, will get down off my “the US is not and does not rule the World” soapbox.

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