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kriswd40
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 9:29 am    Post subject: How to tell if people on our network are using Vonage? Reply with quote Back to top

Hello all. I work for a local telephone company and we are running into legal issues because of services like Vonage. Our company offers phone, dialup, and DSL service in our area. The problem with Vonage is that if a user disconnects their phone service and keeps DSL, they are required by law (in Michigan at least) to pay for things like intrastate charges, 911 tolls, etc. If they keep their phone line, this is a non-issue because those things are being paid with their monthly bill.

We are looking for a way to determine if people on our network are using Vonage. As of this point, we are being forced to disconect a subscriber's DSL service because of this issue and the liabilities we open ourselves up to if we allow them to continue using Vonage without paying these state (or federal, I'm not sure) required tolls. Is there anything unusual about traffice generated by Vonage that we could track or is there a central server that all Vonage phones must connect to (and if so, any idea of a DNS name or IPAddress of said server)? We aren't wanting to evesdrop on conversations or anything like that, we just want to know if a customer is using this service.

Any help or comments are welcome. This is a new issue to us and we are trying best to deal with it. I'm an IT guy, not a lawyer, so I am only relaying what our legal team has told us.
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navydavy2001
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Sir, I really don't think this is a good place to ask that question.

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NateHoy
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

I would contact Vonage on this. They may be able to work something out with your state to arrange payment of those charges, or use the FCC exemption to get around the need to pay them.

In any case, I would think that without an actual phone line, there would be no liability for 911 charges, since they cannot call 911 on a DSL line... ?

Or are you required to provide 911 dialtone on even basic DSL lines? And, if so, why are you not just adding the appropriate surcharge to all DSL lines? I'm failing to see how Vonage would be relevant to this. If they have a cell phone, wouldn't you end up with the same liability? Vonage is responsible for 911, and has an infrastructure set up to handle it.

I can see 911 tolls, though Vonage is instituting collection of some form of per-state 911 fee and that may cover it. But what exactly are "intrastate charges"?

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DallasFlier
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 9:44 am    Post subject: Re: How to tell if people on our network are using Vonage? Reply with quote Back to top

kriswd40 wrote:
The problem with Vonage is that if a user disconnects their phone service and keeps DSL, they are required by law (in Michigan at least) to pay for things like intrastate charges, 911 tolls, etc.

As of this point, we are being forced to disconect a subscriber's DSL service because of this issue and the liabilities we open ourselves up to if we allow them to continue using Vonage without paying these state (or federal, I'm not sure) required tolls.

Uhh, so let me get this straight. YOU offer DSL in addition to phone service, but you're having difficulties because when they disconnect their phone service and just keep the DSL, your billing system doesn't have enough information to charge taxes on their DSL bill???? So, you want to monitor Vonage useage and use THAT lame excuse to eventually block their Vonage service???? You might want to inform your legal department that:

A. I believe the FCC has held it illegal to block Voip traffic from your broadband customers. I'm guessing the FCC would also be very interested if you start disconnecting your DSL customers because they're using Vonage.

B. The problem, if its as you describe it (and it sounds dang fishy to me) is with your customer records and billing system, NOT with the Vonage useage on your network.

If you can't tell if they have DSL service in order to assess the proper taxes, then how, pray tell, are you billing them for the DSL service itself????

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AFKsky
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Quote:
Hello all. I work for a local telephone company and we are running into legal issues because of services like Vonage. Our company offers phone, dialup, and DSL service in our area. The problem with Vonage is that if a user disconnects their phone service and keeps DSL, they are required by law (in Michigan at least) to pay for things like intrastate charges, 911 tolls, etc. If they keep their phone line, this is a non-issue because those things are being paid with their monthly bill.

We are looking for a way to determine if people on our network are using Vonage. As of this point, we are being forced to disconect a subscriber's DSL service because of this issue and the liabilities we open ourselves up to if we allow them to continue using Vonage without paying these state (or federal, I'm not sure) required tolls. Is there anything unusual about traffice generated by Vonage that we could track or is there a central server that all Vonage phones must connect to (and if so, any idea of a DNS name or IPAddress of said server)? We aren't wanting to evesdrop on conversations or anything like that, we just want to know if a customer is using this service.

Any help or comments are welcome. This is a new issue to us and we are trying best to deal with it. I'm an IT guy, not a lawyer, so I am only relaying what our legal team has told us.


I know I am new here but this does not sound like something a tech will ask in a public forum.

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navydavy2001
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

"Sir, I really don't think this is a good place to ask that question."

Very Happy See?

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EzCo
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 10:04 am    Post subject: Re: How to tell if people on our network are using Vonage? Reply with quote Back to top

Sounds fishy to me too. A repsentative from a local telco in Michigan is posting to a forum to try to figure out something as basic as that?
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kriswd40
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

NateHoy wrote:
In any case, I would think that without an actual phone line, there would be no liability for 911 charges, since they cannot call 911 on a DSL line... ?

Or are you required to provide 911 dialtone on even basic DSL lines? And, if so, why are you not just adding the appropriate surcharge to all DSL lines?


I don't know exactly WHAT we are required to charge on nor the full details of why we have to do it. It's been my understanding though that since they are still using our phone line for any form of phone service, there are certain fees that MUST be paid.

We have a revised billing plan for customers that are using Vonage with only DSL (no local phone service) but at this point, we only know the customer is using Vonage if they admit to it. They could be using a cellphone for telephone service as well, but without being able to determine that fact, we have been forced to disconect the customer unless they agree to pay the extra amount (which they should not have to do if they aren't using a service like Vonage).
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kriswd40
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 10:10 am    Post subject: Re: How to tell if people on our network are using Vonage? Reply with quote Back to top

DallasFlier wrote:
Uhh, so let me get this straight. YOU offer DSL in addition to phone service, but you're having difficulties because when they disconnect their phone service and just keep the DSL, your billing system doesn't have enough information to charge taxes on their DSL bill???? So, you want to monitor Vonage useage and use THAT lame excuse to eventually block their Vonage service????


First off, we have no intention of blocking any services they want to use. I never said that, you did. But if they are using Vonage, we need to know so we can assess the aditional fees they are required to pay. If they are not using Vonage, (maybe using a cellphone for their telephone service), we should not have to charge them these fees.

Secondly, we know when they have DSL and bill accordingly. The issue isn't if they have DSL, it is if they are using Vonage over DSL without ALSO subscribing to a local telephone number.
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EzCo
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 10:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

I think your legal department should probably hire some lawyers. If what they are saying is true, then EVERY ISP that does business in Michigan would have to charge the same taxes. I'm not just talking about consumer broadband, but everything. Any home user, business, etc., with any kind of Internet access would be charged those fees, because you never know, they may be using a Voip provider.


Last edited by EzCo on Tue Feb 21, 2006 10:19 am; edited 1 time in total
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