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In The Forum:
Hard Wiring - Installation
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In The Forum:
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Vonage Holdings Corp. Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2013 Results

Carolyn Katz Elected to Board of Directors of Vonage Holdings Corp.

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Vonage Pros and Cons for 2006
Vonage Pros and Cons for 2006



Vonage, a VT2142 and a RTP300, My Experiences - A Detailed Review
Vonage, a VT2142 and a RTP300, My Experiences - A Detailed Review



Salt Lake City: impressions after several months
Salt Lake City: impressions after several months




Vonage Reviews

Don't Let Phone Giants 'Ctrl' What You Get On The 'Net


Vonage In Print News



February 15, 2006

By Staff

In the history of great ideas, the Internet will surely rank near the top. In a relatively short time, it has made vast amounts of information searchable, sortable and readily available with a few key strokes.

Much of the Internet's appeal is that no one controls it in the way that, say, a grocery store decides which brands to stock. Within its virtual walls, a start-up such as MySpace or Craigslist can surge to prominence entirely on the power of an idea.

Now, some very old-school companies want to change all that. Using market dominance achieved through the relative scarcity of lines into people's homes, phone companies such as BellSouth, Verizon and AT&T are eyeing a system that would demand that operators of search engines, e-commerce sites and other Web applications pay them fees or be relegated to the slow lane.

Here's how AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre put it while discussing Vonage, Google and Yahoo with BusinessWeek magazine: "What they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it."

Let us count the ways why this vision by the telecommunications companies is misguided:

• It shows a complete lack of comprehension of why the Internet is so attractive. It is not, like television, a pipeline for delivering content and advertising to consumers. It's an interactive medium that empowers individuals to communicate, join virtual communities, shop, search, prioritize information and engage in an evolving list of other activities.

• Google, Yahoo and other companies are not freeloading off of anyone. Their data flow over the lines of companies such as AT&T only if AT&T's customers pay for it.

• Search engines, e-commerce sites and other major destinations have invested billions of their own dollars on servers, routers and software to make the Internet work. The only difference is that these companies do not have a potential chokehold over the Internet's on-ramps.

• Phone companies achieved dominant positions through their origins as part of the Ma Bell monopoly. It would have been unthinkable for them to demand royalties from catalogue sales over toll-free numbers when they were treated as "common carriers." But now they feel empowered to shake down companies such as Amazon or Travelocity.

Competition might keep the phone companies from putting the squeeze on website operators. That would be the best outcome. But consumers in many parts of the country have little choice in broadband, so Congress is appropriately exploring legislation that would lay out a principle of "Net neutrality" that would require all websites to receive equal access.

Telecommunications companies say they are not altering the Internet, merely offering a new ultra-high-speed tier of service on top of it. Don't be fooled. Once they begin choosing search engines, auction sites and other applications for their premium service, they alter the entire competitive landscape.

In this new world, companies would have to spend more time kowtowing to the likes of AT&T and less time innovating. That doesn't sound like such a great idea.




 
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†AK and HI residents pay $29.95 shipping. ††Limited time offer. Valid for residents of the United States (&DC), 18 years or older, who open new accounts. Offer good while supplies last and only on new account activations. One kit per account/household. Offer cannot be combined with any other discounts, promotions or plans and is not applicable to past purchases. Good while supplies last. Allow up to 2 weeks for shipping. Other restrictions may apply.

1Unlimited calling and other services for all residential plans are based on normal residential, personal, non-commercial use. A combination of factors is used to determine abnormal use, including but not limited to: the number of unique numbers called, calls forwarded, minutes used and other factors. Subject to our Reasonable Use Policy and Terms of Service.

2Shipping and activation fees waived with 1-year agreement. An Early Termination Fee (with periodic pro-rated reductions) applies if service is terminated before the end of the first 12 months. Additional restrictions may apply. See Terms of Service for details.

HIGH SPEED INTERNET REQUIRED. †VALID FOR NEW LINES ONLY. RATES EXCLUDE INTERNET SERVICE, SURCHARGES, FEES AND TAXES. DEVICE MAY BE REFURBISHED. If you subscribe to plans with monthly minutes allotments, all call minutes placed from both from your home and registered ExtensionsTM phones will count toward your monthly minutes allotment. ExtensionsTM calls made from mobiles use airtime and may incur surcharges, depending on your mobile plan. Alarms, TTY and other systems may not be compatible. Vonage 911 service operates differently than traditional 911. See www.vonage.com/911 for details.

** Certain call types excluded.

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