First, I’m not surprised by this in a lot of ways. I think VoIP providers have had their head in the sand for a while now on all these issues. The FCC is not going to play “don’t ask, don’t tell” here folks. And to a degee, with some of these VoIP players I say “it serves them right” — I mean if you’re going to brazenly declare that you’re “the broadband phone company” you shouldn’t be too surprised when the FCC comes knocking and says “so you say you’re a phone company, eh?”
Vonage (and all the Vonage clones) tell us they are as good as your old phone company, that the only people still using a normal telephone service are “people that do stupid things”. So, as a consumer, if they’re going to advertise it that way, that VoIP service better have reliable 911, just like I get with my traditional line.
All that said, the big red flag that I see in these recent VoIP related orders from the FCC is that they are very one sided, only taking into account their affect upon the poor endangered incumbent telephone companies (ILECs and RBOCs). Gosh they only have a few hundred billion in revenue and monopoly control over access to the customer premises. Being so weak and fragile, they need the federal government (and our tax dollars) to even the playing field against all these threats from tiny startups with something the telcos can’t buy — new ideas.
What better way for the government to spend my tax dollars than to prop up a bloated, ecomonically dysfunctional industry so it can continue to suck the life out of the economy and destroy the competitive position of the United States in the global arena? The new USF FCC Order doesn’t even discuss its impact upon VoIP providers, but, thank God, it finds it will have minimal impact on the incumbents. Whew. That’s a relief. I’ll sleep better tonight knowing that.
The order also sneaks in, at footnote 206, that incumbents don’t have to pay USF for DSL service revenues. What the? What’s that even doing in this order?
It’s pretty clear who showed up to draft this order, and who was excluded. There’s nothing here in favor of customers, users, or of course the VoIP industry. This USF order, and other recent VoIP related orders, taken together would be more aptly named “The Incumbent Preservation and Consumer Protection from Innovation Act”.