> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: No, Vonage is not yet '911 compatible' ...
> Telcos will _not_ cooperate with the database.
I'm afraid I must disagree on several points.
Well, actually, in the case of 911, that database isn't much good. I
understand a VOIP caller can originate from anywhere, home, at work, a
hotel thousands of miles from home; all because it's not a hard wired
physical connection, but rather a data transmission over a common
In any event, VOIP has to register its customers. Why can't VOIP
simply build its own database from its files, and transmit the address
when necessary? Naturally, it's VOIP's responsibility to transmit the
address in the existing 911 center's protocol at their expense, not
for 911 centers to adapt for VOIP. I know some people don't agree
with that. But, as a rate and tax payer, I already paid for the
landline hookup, and I'm certainly not gonna pay again for a new kind
of hookup for new people who are getting a cheaper service. I submit
that service wouldn't be so cheap if it had to meet the same
obligations as traditional services. (That was the same situation
when MCI first came on the scene -- it wanted the easy profits but not
difficult expenses of providing long distance).
> Telco is the law! Telco only changes its ways when the Supreme Court
> requires it, and that goes all the way back beyond Carterphone to
This reminds me of the doublestand some modern newcomers take. A
wireless company planted an ugly new tower in our town, in total
disregard of zoning and asethetics and other concerns. The wireless
company had FCC backing as a "common carrier" and thus was above local
regulation. Yet when their subscribers had trouble with lousy service
and wanted out of their contracts, the same carrier said no, a
contract is a contract, it's a free market. That's not a common
carrier, common carriers suffered under very strict consumer
As to Carterphone, there's one thing we need to remember. The
regulators -- government officials didn't like it at first. Why?
Because the original policy was to cross subsidize basic service in
the goal of everyone being able to afford a phone. In the old days, a
no frills phone line (which included one free telephone set and all
maintenance) was quite cheap, much more so than today. (That is,
basic service costs much more than inflation when you add in all the
One reason the phone company didn't want it was their "door to door"
free maintenance policy. If you had a problem, in your telephone set,
wiring, or in a toll call, you dialed 611 and they took care of it.
There was no finger pointing, it was 100% Bell's responsibility. But
after interconnection was allowed, finger pointing between vendors
began in earnest.
The problem was, then AND NOW, is that people expect the same cradle
to grave service from Bell successors AND equally cheap cross
subsidized rates. We see posts here from people claiming Bell
successors ought to do this and that, but we don't see how the heck
this will be paid for. In the old days that could be claimed since
high profit sectors (like business equipment rentals and toll service)
would cross subsidize it. But that's not the case any more.
> Recall that after Carterphone, telco research and development
> flourished. And R&D is where things are at, even if much of the early
> internet R&D was through a number of good-hearted, benevolent
> anarchists who put all their work out like a free-smorgasbord lunch
> for the 'public good'.
Recall that before Carterphone there was a massive complex in New
Jersey known as Bell Laboratories. Bell had the luxury of researching
lots of basic science, not just problems involving telephone service.
Bell Labs was responsible for the technology that consistently lowered
phone rates over time. I understand most of Bell Labs is gone down
and the property is being redeveloped. I'm not sure that's such a
good thing for the country. Bell Labs came up with a lot of useful
non-telephone related stuff (for instance, a cheap shopfloor test for
lead poisoning.) Will Vonage come up with such stuff? I don't think
> And those of us who even feebly objected to this were told -- if we
> were told at all rather than just ignored -- that no one wanted to
> bother with Administrivia, that Administrivia was sinful. The Gospel
> of the Public Good had to come first. But there has to be some sort of
> compromise. Telcos seem unwilling to allow any compromise. So, out of
> pure self-defense we cannot allow any compromise either, it would
> seem. PAT]
Well, ever since MCI came along and skimmed the cream away from Bell,
they've been in a defensive posture. Then you had divesture with the
ridiculous situation of people like me paying MORE for long distance
because local companies weren't allowed to "compete" even though the
whole idea was more competition. Finally, they let local companies in
and rates -- surprise suprise -- went down, and MCI and Sprint declined.
Anyway, this is a competitive world now, the good, the bad, and the
ugly. Did people honestly expect only the good parts of competition
to come through in 1983, and not any of the bad? That there wouldn't
be any fraud companies? Full sharing?
No, a safe word is not the real world, that's the old cradle-to-grave
regulated Bell System. We threw that out, on purpose. So get used to
fraud (remember that certain company that threatened you and then went
bankrupt taking leases with it?) Does Ford give away its R&D to GM or
keep it for itself? Does McDonald's give free advice and supplies to
As to Internet R&D, all of us certainly appreciate the great many
donated hours of research and contributions to make it possible. But,
frankly, given the state of things, I'm not so sure that worked out so
well. Pat, you have often described the very serious problems of
administration of ICAN.
As to "don't bother with administration", to put it another way: I
remember when "shareware" was the big rage. That was gonna put the
"evil money grubbing" commercial software out of business. Well, gues
what, the average consumer didn't give a damn about the author, they
just downloaded as much stuff for free as they could. It other words,
there's no such thing as a free lunch. If you give something away,
don't expect the recipient to respond in kind. Somebody's still gotta
pay the rent and power bill. The old college thing of passing the hat
doesn't work in the real world.
This "public good" stuff might have worked when the Internet was in a
closed and controlled college community. But indeed, even there
college kids aren't angels either, they stole long distance, music,
etc when they could.
As to this patent business, Verizon went to court. It won. Other
times in the past it lost.
So Verizon and all the others -- big and small -- are gonna do what
they're gonna do. They're in business. That's what businesses do --
If you don't like it, go back to pre-divesture, and have the FCC and
PUCs approve every time a Bell officer wants to take a coffee break.