TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Blocking VOIP, Other Apps, Clearwire

Re: Blocking VOIP, Other Apps, Clearwire

Fred Goldstein (
Thu, 31 Mar 2005 23:04:22 -0500

On Wed, 30 Mar 2005 22:37:09 -0500, Jack Decker wrote:

> [Jack Decker Comment: The basic issue here is much larger than VoIP -
> the fact is that most people who pay a monthly fee for broadband
> expect to be able to connect to "the Internet" and all the
> applications available there. For some strange reason a few ISP's
> seem to have the attitude that it's not sufficient that their
> customers are paying for an Internet connection, but instead they feel
> that if they offer an add-on service such as VoIP, they should be able
> to block competitive services. Now, I want you to think about the
> Internet services you use and the web pages you visit, because let me
> tell you, if they make this stick, NOTHING on the Internet is
> guaranteed accessible to you.

But that is, legally, the case. Under current US law, ISPs are
regulated as "information" providers, precisely because they are not
simply providing bit pipes. Sure, most ISPs just pass everything,
because that's what many people want and it's a competitive market.
But it's not as if "ISP" is a licensed common carrier. It's an
information provider. If blocking some things is how they optimize
the performance of other things, that's their business.

Common carriers are a different entity. The problem is that the Bells
do not want to be common carriers any more; they want to provide
"information" service on an exclusive basis, kicking off other ISPs.
That would be very, very dangerous, but it's before the FCC right now
(Verizon and BellSouth Forbearance petitions). Without competition
*or* common carriage at an underlying layer (ATM, what their DSL uses
now), they could block anything they want and that's that. ...

> My point is this: Up until now, Internet providers have pretty much
> acted like common carriers -- in fact, they have evaded prosecution on
> copyright infringement charges by explicitly stating that they were
> common carriers and do not monitor the traffic that their customers
> send back and forth.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. They are NOT common carriers, have never stated
that they were common carriers, and don't want to be common carriers.
ISPs have separate legal rights concerning content owned by their
customers, but it's not part of common carriage.

> Now, all of a sudden, a few of them seem to want
> to go the other way. Well if that be the case, and they no longer
> claim to be common carriers but in fact are actively blocking certain
> kinds of traffic, then watch the lawsuits begin for the traffic they
> DON'T block -- and they have brought it all on themselves by their
> greed.

They are governed by contract law. Clearwire is apparently acting
within its contract. You don't like it? Go somewhere else. That's
the beauty of the ISP business, so long as competition remains

> For those of you who read this and are connected with an Internet
> Service Provider, and if your ISP belongs to the "U.S. Internet
> Industry Association", may I respectfully suggest that you think long
> and hard about David McClure's comments in Light Reading, and whether
> that is the type of organization you wish to belong to.

The USIIA is *not* a real ISP trade association. It is a public
relations front, an "astroturf" operation run by Sam Simon's Issue
Dynamics Inc., public relations agent for the Bells. Simon's IDI
creates phoney organizations in order to promote their clients'
interests. I have an article on him on my web site . Other IDI fronts are APT,
TRAC and New Millennium Research Council. So whatever McClure is
saying is what Verizon is thinking.

Fred Goldstein k1io fgoldstein "at"
ionary Consulting

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