One of the most important business evolution issues of our time: VOIP and broadband backbones and QOS
piece from Cringely is hugely important: It discusses the
widespreasd potential of large backbone players to tag the VOIP packets
of their favored applications, provide enhanced quality of service to
taged packets, and thus advantage their services and cripple those of
This is not just a VOIP issue. ANY end-to-end service can be disrupted
this way. Essentially, this is a case of oligopoly players configuring
their “essential services” so as to advantage themselves. This will
constitute the illegal abuse of market power, and is akin to the
“tying” that Microsoft was deemed guilty of.
Where I don’t agree with Cringely is that we, the people, have no recourse.
We do have recourse in the rules regarding dominant players in highly
concentrated markets. The matter Cringely raises should be
attended to closely by the Federal Trade Commission and the US Department of Justice.
Professionals in both of these agencies can make their careers
prosecuting the cable and telco companies on this matter.
We need to wake up the government regulators, the small and large
business trade associations, and the consumer protection lobby.
We need to make our message very clear, and get it out to
sympathetic congresspeople, governors, and professionals in the FTC and DOJ.
At the very least we need to recognize that:
(1) from an economic and legal point of view cable companies and
telcos have become “dominant competitors” in the overall broadband
market and, more to the point, in given regional markets;
(2) from a technical and a legal point of view these dominant
companies provide “essential services” to an ecosytem of third parties,
not limited to VOIP companies but to any net services company.
These companies in turn provide services to millions of consumers,
small and large businesses.
(3) in order to avoid prosecution, the dominant companies need to
assure that their essential services will be provided on a fair,
non-discriminatory basis to all of their customers. The basic
Internet packet delivery services are the common carraige of our
information-based society and economy.
(4) the public interest goes very very deep in this matte.
Internet packet delivery services are the public roads of our
time. Those who own and maintain the roads must not discriminate
in favor of traffic generated by subsidiaries and allies of
Control of these information highways must not be used to exploit and
in some sense to tax America’s small and large businesses, and
its millions of consumers, by forcing them to buy communications and
information application services from subsidiaries and allies of the
oligopoly broadband providers.