Internet Pioneer: VoIP is NOT Telephony

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4/15/2005 Internet pioneer: VoIP is NOT telephony

-Posted by Russell Shaw @ 2:32 am

My colleague Renai LeMay at ZDNet Australia has just had the professional privilege of hearing remarks by one of the technology world's smartest men.

Vint Cerf. The Vint Cerf that developed the TCP/IP protocol that makes the Internet work. And more than 30 years after that singular (hey, I just realized how Cingular got its name) feat of innovation, there Cerf was yesterday, addressing an Internet governance forum in Sydney.

Vint Cerf does not want VoIP to be regulated. His fear, though -- one that I share, is because VoIP "looks like telephony," regulatory bodies all over the world will knee-jerk assume that it needs to be governed.

"My concern here is the fact that VoIP looks like, and sounds like telephony," Cerf told the group. "This is horribly misleading. To leap to that conclusion is extremely dangerous. VoIP is really just another application on the Internet. Nothing special about it."

Oh, boy. This is a fitting statement for April 15, but how I wish that revenue-hungry state and local governments in the U.S. got it. But they haven't. Here in the U.S., too many jurisdictions are going to keep longingly looking at VoIP as a cash cow -- and will keep trying to figure out ways to glean money from it.

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Jack Decker
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