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bry2k
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

I think we agree. But "Let the market drive the service" is a bit too simplistic regarding this particular market. The analogies are many and varied: Standard Oil, Ma Bell, Microsoft. Even Microsoft gets beat up a bit too much by government regulators, but really, they brought it upon themselves be being anti-competitive (if you believe any of the many charges brought against them). Vonage, or any Voip provider, can't *be* the market and *drive* the service if there are obstacles to the success of the technology that can only be overcome by everybody agreeing on how things are implemented.

Just consider this, because this is at the heart of it all: what if, when SBC unrolls their Voip, which is coming, they were to cripiple Vonage service -- not in a blatantly overt way that could get them into trouble -- but just enough to make Vonage service look dysfunctional compared to theirs. Who, other than the government, could prevent that? You say "the market"? I disagree. Consumers won't say "SBC is a big mean company harming a small company, so I will forgo any Voip service until SBC lets Vonage compete". Rather, consumers would say "I guess I'm screwed. SBC owns the wires, the networks, the switches, and Vonage doesn't work on the SBC network, so I guess I gotta pay twice as much for SBC VoIP". So, that wouldn't be "the market" driving the service -- that would SBC (a single player, albeit a big player, in the market) driving the service.

Voip isn't comparable to previous recent technology wars -- ie, Netscape vs. Microsoft -- because the browser wars, the internet, all the little dialups and ISPs being built in the mid-1990's, that was all being built from the ground up, and the big telcos were oblivious to all of it. But the big players are no longer oblivious. They are now acutely aware that they own every square inch of the physical real estate that carries all of the data traffic in the country, and even though there is cable vs telco competition, it's not enough for there to be a true market shakeout of competitive forces with a win-win scenario for the consumer. Like I said, we aren't talking about making Voip a federal program, but only applying rules and guidelines that will make the service more functional for everyone.
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ToddlerTN
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Joined: Feb 12, 2005
Posts: 482
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Martlet wrote:
You're points are legitimate, but they are still the "I want the government to make X give me Y".

Some of us are looking at it the other way. "I want the government to help X provide the services they want to provide by eliminating roadblocks to technology and opening access to data services for all providers."

Right now, the Voip startups like Vonage are locked out of the 911 system. Rhode Island is one of the few states where 911 is controlled by the state. In other places, the phone companies control access to 911, and they aren't allowing Vonage to access it. If I need 911, then I only have one choice for telephone service...POTS. How is that in the interest of providing choice? I'm sure Vonage would love to offer me that choice, but they can't. I'd love to have it from Vonage, but I can't. Why? Not because Vonage has voluntarily decided not to offer it due to the expense, but because they're not being denied access by competitors who have a monopoly over the 911 system. That is an anti-competitive practice, which is exactly what regulation is for.

Martlet wrote:
Vonage has a considerable amount of customers that recognize the benefit of Voip. We've all made the decision to switch to them, or at least add them. Now we're in the Voip industry.

Kind of like when we rent movies from Blockbuster, now we're in show business?

Martlet wrote:
Is Packet8 better? Net2phone? VoicePulse? I don't know. If they aren't, one of them will surely recognize the market, realize we want better X, Y, and Z, and deliver it.

You're completely ignoring the cable conglomerates like Time Warner, Cox, Comcast, etc., as well as the "Baby Bell" telephone companies themselves. And those guys own all the wires that services like Vonage depend on. What if they don't "play nice" with Vonage? There goes your right to choose Vonage, taken away from you by a competitor out to crush the competition. Just last week the FCC fined a cable company for deliberately screwing with Voip. Regulation in that case is ALL ABOUT choice.

If you truly believed in choice, you'd favor at least some limited regulation to allow companies like you named, as well as Vonage themselves, to compete against these multi-billion dollar corporations. Otherwise Vonage and others like them will end up getting squeezed out in the next 5-10 years, and you'll end up with fewer choices and less competition in the long run.

Martlet wrote:
Maybe one of the companies will stay poor quality customer service and service the customers in the market that just want cheap cheap cheap.

Well if that happens, we'll all know who your Voip provider is.
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Martlet
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Joined: Feb 13, 2005
Posts: 206
Location: Boston

PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Quote:
Right now, the Voip startups like Vonage are locked out of the 911 system. Rhode Island is one of the few states where 911 is controlled by the state. In other places, the phone companies control access to 911, and they aren't allowing Vonage to access it. If I need 911, then I only have one choice for telephone service...POTS. How is that in the interest of providing choice? I'm sure Vonage would love to offer me that choice, but they can't. I'd love to have it from Vonage, but I can't. Why? Not because Vonage has voluntarily decided not to offer it due to the expense, but because they're not being denied access by competitors who have a monopoly over the 911 system. That is an anti-competitive practice, which is exactly what regulation is for.


I'm not familiar with how e911 is run. If that's the case, it's a legitimate concern. Not one of my concerns, but legitimate none-the-less. While I don't think Vonage should be required to provide and charge for that service, they should be able to offer it if they choose.

Quote:

Kind of like when we rent movies from Blockbuster, now we're in show business?


I'm undecided whether you are intentionally being a fool, or misunderstood me. I'll assume the latter for now.

As the rest of my comment clearly indicates, i meant we are now consumers. We've been convinced Voip can be a viable alternative. We've bought into the legitimacy of the industry.
Quote:

You're completely ignoring the cable conglomerates like Time Warner, Cox, Comcast, etc., as well as the "Baby Bell" telephone companies themselves. And those guys own all the wires that services like Vonage depend on. What if they don't "play nice" with Vonage? There goes your right to choose Vonage, taken away from you by a competitor out to crush the competition. Just last week the FCC fined a cable company for deliberately screwing with Voip. Regulation in that case is ALL ABOUT choice.


I'm not forgetting them. As the latest court battle shows, and you noted, they are covered under existing regulation. We don't need to regulate the regulations.


Quote:
Well if that happens, we'll all know who your Voip provider is.


Ahhh, I retract giving you the benefit of the doubt earlier. You are being a putz. An incorrect one in this in this case. I generally pay considerably extra for better service. Not just in telecommunications, but in everything I buy. Money isn't driving my argument, the unwillingness to have the government babysit every aspect of my life or business is.
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ToddlerTN
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Posts: 482
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Fair enough, you're not cheap. I got you confused with DentalRep.

I did miss your point about "we are all in the Voip industry" but saying we are all consumers was a good bit clearer.

Martlet wrote:
As the latest court battle shows, and you noted, they are covered under existing regulation. We don't need to regulate the regulations.

Just so that I understand your position, do you foresee ever favoring any regulation at all with regard to the Voip industry? And do you favor current regulatory standards, but oppose taking a comprehensive look at regulations in light of the huge impact Voip is going to have in the near future?
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Martlet
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

ToddlerTN wrote:
Fair enough, you're not cheap. I got you confused with DentalRep.

I did miss your point about "we are all in the Voip industry" but saying we are all consumers was a good bit clearer.

Martlet wrote:
As the latest court battle shows, and you noted, they are covered under existing regulation. We don't need to regulate the regulations.

Just so that I understand your position, you don't favor ever having any regulation at all with regard to the Voip industry? And you favor current regulatory standards, but not taking a comprehensive look at regulations in light of the huge impact Voip is going to have in the near future?


No, I anticipate a time when I feel regulation will be necessary, and I don't favor all current regulatory standards. I just think it's too early to begin regulating, since the consumer rarely benefits under all areas of regulation.

We just don't know how Voip will evolve yet. Will it partner with ISPs as a tiered offering? If so, how will that affect competition? As it becomes more widely used, what will be the affect on the data infrastructure? What will the extra cost be to the carriers? Will the offer a competitive product that's cost competitive also? Should they be allowed to pass the expense on to Voip carriers? How will LECs retaliate?

We just don't know. Many of the problems that are being discussed and put forward as examples of the need for regulation are covered by industries already regulated. e911? If the problem is as you stated, that can be fixed under current regulations. Blocking availability? We've seen that overcome. Customer service issues? I don't believe those should be regulated. Not with the current market.

My argument is lets wait until it needs regulating. Let's see how the industry evolves. Let's not push for it with the assumption it will be a fix-all. That's proven to not be the case. The CLEC industry is a perfect example.
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bry2k
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Joined: Feb 21, 2005
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Quote:
And do you favor current regulatory standards, but oppose taking a comprehensive look at regulations in light of the huge impact Voip is going to have in the near future?


Right. That point hits the nail on the head. There's already tons of regulations interwoven into this business, so it goes without saying (at least in my mind) that the regulations will need to be looked at, updated, modified, tweaked...etc...to accomodate the monkey wrench the Voip throws into the whole works. That's just the reality of the situation once Voip moves from "gee whiz idea" to "practical means of communication". FWIW, I was playing with Net2Phone in...I think 1996, 1997...? Right around there...and at that time, it was a geeky cool but entirely useless thing to play around with. But what we're doing now is making this stuff work for real. We've bought into it, everybody is going to buy into it, for very valid reasons, and so everybody is going to have to agree on how it works, how well it works, etc and move towards that goal.

Also, I agree you can't really regulate customer service quality per se - hard to enforce - but Vonage had better regulate itself in that area because right now its a disaster. I've had the following experiences with Vonage:

1) A service rep killed my PAP2 with an old firmware update that shouldn't have been uploaded to my PAP2 in the first place.
2) A service rep hung up on me when she didn't know the answer to one of my questions and I asked for her supervisor.
3) A service rep that could barely speak English.
4) And most frustrating of all: I can almost never reach a human being in the first place. Total hold time to reach the three bozos mentioned above was probably 4-5 hours, and then I'm connected to someone completely incapable of communicating or providing a solution. It just makes Vonage SO BAD when that's the kind of employees that are representing the company.
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DentalRep
Vonage Forum Senior
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Joined: Feb 15, 2005
Posts: 85

PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

ToddlerTN wrote:
Fair enough, you're not cheap. I got you confused with DentalRep.



Ouch!!! I guess I deserve that being that I would sacrifice some service to save some money. The fact is that we all our cheap to a point or we wouldn't be on this forum in the first place complaining about our Voip service.

The point is that if we were paying only $25.00 a month for a landline not one of us would have switched to a Voip carrier. The landline is more reliable, 911 works, customer service doesn't take hours to get ahold of (for the most part), and if we have a problem someone comes to our house! Voip is still in the developmental stage and is still evolving as we type. If you really believed that it was going to be at the level of a landline or better at the stage of the technology then you were uninformed and did not know what you were getting into.

Do I want everything that Vonage advertises for $25? Sure I do, BUT I am realistic about my expectations. They are not going to get floods of new customers by advertising that they are not really as good as the local carriers and occasionally your audio will get garbled and fade in and out. Is Vonage going to get better? Yes, of course it is. they have to stay competitive. Just be realistic with your expectations.

Everyone is posting that the government needs to step in and regulate the industry. This I find is almost comical because this will more than likely not solve anything that competition will solve on its own.

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ToddlerTN
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Joined: Feb 12, 2005
Posts: 482
Location: Nashville, TN

PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2005 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Maybe a few people here are calling for regulation to address service issues, but I am not one of them. I do understand the growing pains of a maturing and imperfect technology.

My personal case for FCC regulation, and obviously I've explained it in detail (more than once I think), is that a single national regulatory authority can really assist the Voip industry in achieving success.

I don't really know anything about telecommunications except that I am a customer. But the 911 issue made me begin to do some research. I was surprised to learn that the Voip providers all actually want FCC regulation to some degree. For one reason, the telephone companies have been regulated at the state (and in some cases, local) level for decades, and every seperate jurisdiction has its own rules. I guess we all know about the Michigan case and the New York case...these companies don't want to be dealing with 50 or more sets of rules. That gets incredibly expensive. So a single federal authority would simplify business for these companies.

Also these companies often have different flavors of the same technology, but that doesn't mean they all play nice together. Someone has to establish a standard for all of these devices to talk to each other, or else the consumer gets lost in the crossfire and nobody wins.

And two or three years from now, there will be millions of Voip customers either from Vonage or SBC or Comcast...neither the government nor the public will be content with millions of customers not having access to 911. We've already had the story of the Houston family, and fair or not, there will be plenty more stories like that in the months to come.

I work for one of the "Big 4" accounting/consulting firms. There are more regulations for us to comply with than I could even begin to imagine. All communications have to be logged, and employees have to be certified and keep up their certification. All that stuff is to protect people from getting screwed by big business (as if THAT would ever happen). Then on the other end of the spectrum is the Chinese restaurant down the street. They are regulated too. It's what keeps them from storing chicken at room temperature.

I won't go on any more. As this industry grows, it's simply got to be regulated. For the good of consumers and investors, for the Voip companies themselves and even to ensure that America leads the world in establishing this technology.

Well that was a waste of half an hour.
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