SPIT Into This, Please
By Wayne Rash
March 16, 2005
Opinion: VOIP faces threats from spam and offshoring, but how bad?
Picture the world of voice traffic on the Internet as a dark and
forbidding place, rife with mobsters, con artists and shadowy sellers
of dubious products.
Now picture getting hundreds of calls from these people every day.
Imagine your worst day ever of telemarketing, back before the Do Not
Call list, and then magnify it 10 times over.
That's the depressing future of VOIP (voice over IP), according to a
report just released by the Burton Group.
According to analyst Daniel Golding, the report's author, low costs
brought on by outsourcing and offshoring, coupled with VOIP
communications that are essentially free, can bring you exactly that
kind of future, unless you take precautions.
According to Golding, current federal laws prohibiting such
unsolicited calls are also part of the driving force for those
overseas call centers.
"The big issue here is: How much do I have to spend to get a certain
number of responses?" Golding explained.
He predicts that most of the calls will come from organizations
operating illegally or committing fraud.
He said this will mean that they won't care about the Do Not Call
list, or about the hostility telemarketers currently meet.
"They don't care if 99 percent of the people hate them," Golding
said. "They know that 1 percent are idiots."
Despite all of the hoopla about just how much of a problem VOIP spam
might be, there's little agreement.
In fact, there's little agreement on what constitutes VOIP spam
(sometimes called "SPIT," for spam over Internet telephony).
On one hand, you'll hear that U.S. consumers are about to feel an
onslaught of tens of thousands of telemarketing calls from overseas
call centers taking advantage of cheap calling, and using their
location to avoid U.S. do-not-call regulations.
On another, you'll hear that the real threat is more traditional spam
aimed at VOIP systems, or perhaps denial of service attacks on these
And on a third hand, you'll hear that the problem isn't all that bad,
and that it can be managed.
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: So ordinarily, we hear many good things
about VOIP; how it will revolutionize the telecom industry, etc, which
I am sure is the case. But there is a dark side to it all, as these
three special articles in this issue of the Digest indicate. Will in
fact the people who have turned so many computers into Zombies
continue their work with VOIP? If you think not, then why not? PAT]