FCC: Consumers Can Put End to VOIP Port Blocking

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By Mark Hachman, ExtremeTech

SAN JOSE, Calif. Members of the Federal Communications Commission claim market forces, not regulation, will likely prevent a repeat of an ISP blocking voice-over-IP traffic.

In a "town hall" meeting Monday night at the VON Conference & Expo here, Jeffrey Carlisle, chief of the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau, and Robert Pepper, chief of policy development at the FCC, answered audience questions on regulatory issues. A key topic was the recent blocking of VOIP traffic by Madison River Communications, a wholly owned subsidiary of Madison River Telephone Company LLC, and whether that scenario could repeat itself with other ISPs.

PointerVOIP port blocking draws congressional interest. Click here to read more.

According to Carlisle, consumers are becoming more savvy about their broadband providers and will notice if services such as those provided by Vonage Holdings Corp. stop working. The industry is going through a "frontier period," Carlisle said, where corporations could press the limits of the law.

"Consumers will know if they're not able to get something," Carlisle said. "If I see a Vonage box in the store, [bring it home], and I can't get Vonage, I'm going to know about that." In that case, consumers will simply choose another broadband provider that provides the services that they're looking for, he said.

[COMMENT: Well, heck, yes, if I don't like what my current broadband provider is doing I'll simply go down to the local broadband service store and select another provider from among the multitude of choices there. Riiiiiight. Sounds like some people at the FCC still need to get a clue!]

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