Democracy in VoIP

Rich Tehrani : Communications and Technology Blog -
Rich Tehrani
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Democracy in VoIP

While I watch the historic election in Iraq I wonder to myself if we realize the same thing is happening in the communications world. VoIP providers are really providing democratic communications by bypassing the "monarchies" of incumbent phone companies throughout the world. Even with deregulation, if you didn't own the pipes you couldn't really get full access to customers. Sure, wireless networks allow ways around this limitation but many of these companies are still owned by incumbents.

Using IP as transport means VoIP is telephony that transcends normal regulation allowing it to actually free us from having to deal with a few large companies to provide our long-distance service.

But does this analogy between democracy in Iraq and in communications hold true beyond just allowing every citizen a "voice?" The answer may be yes in more ways than you think. You see just as there are terrorists trying to sabotage the elections in Iraq, I have been told there are incumbent phone companies experimenting with killing VoIP service on their networks. In this case I hear Qwest may be blocking Skype and Net2Phone VoIP access. I don't have Qwest service and cannot verify this claim but I have written about the potential for a few broadband providers to block VoIP service in the past. This is why I have made such a fuss over the FCC ensuring more broadband competition.

I am very interested in the topic of VoIP service being blocked on incumbent networks so if you hear of this happening please drop me a line or at least post a reply to this entry. Hopefully we will reach a point where the US is as eager to spread democratizing VoIP technology as it is eager to spread democracy itself.

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