Every dish I made this weekend could have been the recipe of the week. However, on Friday, I decided that the winning dish would be something I have never made, usually did not like and never understood. My decision was based upon my wife's love for the dish, its perception of being one of those comfort foods and the challenge to update something so iconic. However, I needed back up dishes in case I failed. So, Friday, I made chicken fried steak. Saturday, I made my first New England lobster roll, which was very good and then came Sunday. How to make a fool proof, tasty and updated meatloaf? I didn't want to cover it with the traditional catsup sauce for flavor. I didn't want to layer it with bacon to generate moisture. I wanted to create a meatloaf that was tender, full of flavor and sauced in a fashion that would make a three star restaurant proud. To begin, I did ground my own beef but the key here is to not avoid fat (that is the role of the unnecessary bacon). You need beef that is either 80:20 or 85:15. Do not use hamburger grade, 70:30 or the lean cuisine 90:10. One is too fatty and you will lose 20 percent of the meatloaf volume. The other is too lean and even layering a pound of bacon will not save the dish. My meatloaf version leverages my knowledge of how to make a great meatball and respects the tradition of the dish. Guys, the result was wonderful. If you like meatloaf, or like me avoid it due to bad versions. I implore you to try this version, Meatloaf with Mushroom Cream Sauce.
Pumping up telecom traffic is not the same as pumping up a recipe for meatloaf. Traffic pumping is when you provide what appears to be a free service and then charge the terminating carriers exorbitant fees to complete the calls. Many of us have used these services without understanding the business model and threat to our primary carriers.
Traffic pumping works like this...a rural CLEC in Nextonowhere, USA (mostly Midwest and western US) is either contacted by a conferencing, adult porn or some other business to provide terminating telecom services. The business agrees to promote itself using the numbers provided by the CLEC and the CLEC agrees to split the revenue generate by the access fees charged to terminate the call with the business. The scheme works because users with unlimited long distance plans, can make the calls to these services for free and oblivious as to how the business actually makes money. It is also only effective in rural areas because high access fees are required to make any real money. The FCC allows for the higher access fees in rural areas in order to support their infrastructure requirements and the expected low volume of incoming/terminating traffic. By concentrating these free services in rural areas and promoting the service nationally, traffic to the rural CLEC increases beyond normal projections and the CLEC makes more money than expected by the FCC. This abnormal increase in traffic is called traffic pumping.
Broadvox, Google, Speakeasy and other ITSPs/ISPs are also effect by this somewhat unscrupulous business model. Each of us in recent time has decided to stop paying these high fees as they cannot be supported by our unlimited long distance calling plans. The cost of traffic pumping is approaching a billion dollars per year. The FCC has warned the ILECs like AT&T to support the scheme by continuing to pay FCC mandated access charges. The FCC, for its part, has warned the CLECs that sharing revenue with and end-users or providing support for stimulating traffic those results in improved levels of access fees is in violation of the FCC's rules. Please note, the warning did not strike fear into the CLECs taking advantage of the practice. Today AT&T notes that it is paying as much as $0.13 per minutes in access charges to some CLECs for these free services. It has estimated its cost to exceed $250 million per year. Wireless carriers have seen their cost rise to nearly $200 million.
Since the requirement to terminate these calls is limited to the regulated ILECs and CLECs, Broadvox, Google and other Internet telephony service providers have decided to stop carrying the traffic. Broadvox does recognize that this will impact some of our customers who use the free services, but, current have no other choice. Until the FCC acts, we will continue to study the problem to seek an alternative resolution.