Friday, February 13, 2004

"Pure VoIP Won't Be Regulated, Phone-Like VoIP Might Be"

Comment from Richard:

I have some problems with this decision (see below), although I congratulate Jeff to his personal sucess.
But considering all the recent developments, and seeing it in context, especially the decision by FICORA
on Sonera's Puhekaista Service:
I am not very happy with this development.

In principle I have no problem that Phone-like VoIP might be regulated, the only question is to which extent. I understand that there is some regulations required if VoIP is interworking with the PSTN (e.g. using E.164 numbers, access to emergency services, an fixed lines, etc.). I also understand that if a VoIP is replacing an existing primary line service or PATS , it should have similar regulations then the original service beacuse of customer expectations.

What I do not understand is the extreme position (and simplistic) of FICORA simply stating if you use E.164 numbers in- and outbound, you are PATS, period. Any therefore you have to comply to ALL Universal Service Directives. I understand that the FCC is currently not going down this way, stating that Phone-like Services Might Be regulated, but one never knows. There is also the danger that very different regulations crop up in different countries, and VoIP is from the beginning international or global (and NOT NATIONAL, Alan).

So even if VoIP services originating on geographic fixed lines replacing primary line services are regulated as PATS, all nomadic or mobile VoIP services are not PATS, IN THE SAME WAY ALL MOBILE SERVICES ARE NOT PATS.

I consider it very strange that existing mobile services are explicitely not PATS, but VoIP should be (ok, laws are also a question of lobbying)

I see the following possible developments, which IMHO are dangerous:

1. We may have two phone services, one as IP telephony and one on the PSTN (including carrier VoIP (NGN+3GPP))
2. The PSTN continues using E.164, the other Internet addressing or an own new dialling plan, which would take years to develop consistently
3. The two services are not interworking with each other, or even worse, only by (illegal?) "private"
4. All this would lead primarily to endless customer confusion.
5. Customer confusion leads primarily reluctance of customers to invest (see other "standard" wars)

In effect, this development would hurt both sides:
1. VoIP deployment would be delayed, and there is also the danger that competing numbering plans and implementations would confuse customers even further. We should not forget that all VoIP and IP Communications are still tiny islands in the large PSTN see. But if IPC finally wants to replace the PSTN, IPC need to be an ubiquitous service, therefore cooperation and interworking is necessary. The E.164 numbering plan and ENUM could provide the glue to achieve this goal early.

2. But also the PSTN will be hurt: If the barriers are to high, Telcos will continue to be reluctant to invest in IP technology, even some or parts within the Telcos will like the delay, but this is short sighted.

The customers and especially the business customers will finally go to all-IP (not only because of the price, but also because of superior features) and so VoIP and IP Communications will finally succeed, and the breakdown of the PSTN will come EARLIER then now expected, because there is NO interworking.

Do not forget, IPC can always interwork with the PSTN, but the PSTN can only interwork with the Internet via E.164 and ENUM (that why some poeple in the Internet Community are against ENUM).

Consider a time in the future when 50% of users are on VoIP and 90% already on BB-IP anyway and 50% are on the PSTN. The IP guys then have the global service (there are always ways to reach the PSTN from IP), but the guys on the PSTN are LEFT BEHIND.

First all on both sides will drop the PSTN like a hot potato (see whats going on with the fixed network with 80% mobile) and there will be a rush to move over, especially the grannies to reach their grandchilds living on all-IP since years, and the PSTN will crash.

Conclusion: a decision to strongly regulate all IPC services touching the PSTN will hurt both VoIP and the PSTN, and it also will cause in the short term a serious delay in investment of innovative products.

One way out may be found in the excellent report from Analysys to the European Commission and
at the workshop to be held in Brussels on March 15th. See:

EoC: Richard

TECHDIRT Thursday, February 12th, 2004 @ 10:33AM

As expected, the FCC ruled on the Pulver VoIP petition today, and gave something of a split decision. They claim that "pure" VoIP systems shouldn't be regulated, since they're just like email or any other internet application. However, they're reserving judgment on VoIP systems that more resemble regular phone service, such as Vonage that touch on the PSTN. This seems like something of a cop out, and may be difficult to sustain over time. Most of the "pure" VoIP systems are offering (or planning to offer) gateways that let them connect to the telephone system. Where do they fall along the regulatory spectrum? This would take away the incentive of VoIP providers to connect to regular phone service, creating two different levels of phone service, rather than connecting the two and leading to a more orderly migration. Of course, it still remains to be seen what sorts of regulations they will include for PSTN-connected VoIP. Chances are, they're talking about adding in 911 service and phone-tapping abilities.

theLink - Newsletter:
"CHILE - The Challenges of IP Telephony"

The fact that technology advances faster than its relevant regulations is not new. Over the last few months we have seen proof of this with the arrival of the voice and data integrated transmission system through wide-band, better known as "IP Telephony," which has caused more than one conflict in the Chilean telecommunications market.

In the event that this system is implemented, the public would pay substantially reduced tariffs for telephony services, and, furthermore, users would be able to access such services for a fixed monthly tariff, allowing them to make and receive calls on an unlimited basis. The system might even have a greater impact if, due to its implementation, the concept of a "long distance call" itself disappears, in effect assimilating the cost of any national or international long distance call to a local call, and thus jeopardizing the survival of long distance businesses.

For these reasons, the Undersecretary of Telecommunications (the "Subtel") has shown itself to be very interested in the development of IP Telephony in the country. Subtel's involvement is in accord with its policies to (i) improve access to and the quality of telecommunication services through the promotion of new technologies, and to (ii) make "technological convergence" easier.

However, current telecommunication regulations establish basic restrictions that are difficult to overcome. There is a consensus inside Subtel that IP Telephony service cannot be provided unless the respective service provider has a specific license to do so. Consequently, the fact that IP Telephony is provided using a different technology or protocol does not change its nature as a public telephony service, and does not release the incumbent from its obligation to fulfill all of the requirements established in the regulations in order to provide such a service, including the need to hold a license that expressly authorizes the incumbent to provide telephony services. Subtel has recently initiated proceedings against a telecommunications' incumbent that was providing IP Telephony service without holding the required license.

Several alternatives are currently being analyzed in order to solve the above-mentioned problem. The first involves the possibility of amending the Telecommunications Act to allow any IP Telephony's services provider to render the service without a license. This option is being evaluated by applying a criterion similar to the one currently applicable to the ISP's operations. The second involves the possibility of creating a special license for IP Telephony which should fulfill minimum requirements, but to which the local and long distance telephony regulations would not apply. The third involves the possibility of considering IP Telephony as a data transmission public service. However, this alternative would permit only the making of phone calls, and not the receiving of phone calls.
Presently, at least two telecommunication companies have requested and obtained from Subtel public telephony service licenses in order to operate an IP Telephony system.
Such licenses are still not operational, however, mainly due to the uncertainty that exists with respect to the applicable regulations. It is hoped that a solution will be reached as soon as possible, in consideration that implementing this new system will certainly benefit the customers, who would have access to an additional and less expensive telecommunication alternative.

For more information please contact :;;

BRAZIL - Anatel Proposes Regulations on Digital Telecom Service

On 19th December 2003, the National Telecommunications Agency ("Anatel") submitted for public comment a proposed regulation for the creation of a new telecommunications service denominated Digital Communication Services (the "SCD"). Due to the importance of this new service, which many say is a means to implement competition and universal goals in the fixed telephony market, the initial period for comments was extended to 11th February 2004.
The SCD is a new telecommunications service aimed at enabling public access to digital networks, including the Internet, by carrying digital signals. The SCD license will allow the operator to carry data, voice and any other digital signals.

The SCD must necessarily include (i) the provision of broadband services (above 64 kbit/s) to make feasible to interconnect terminals to digital network access providers and to the Internet; (ii) the provision of access to digital networks and the Internet; and (iii) the management and operation of systems and services. Additionally, SCD may also include, at the service provider's discretion, (i) the provision of terminals and their respective software; and (ii) other types of connection, pursuant to the regulation.

It should be noted that the SCD license may be granted under a public or private regime. Companies operating these services under a public regime must comply with universal service commitments, in addition to quality standards.

The upside of the public license is the option to make use of resources from the Fund for Universal Access to Telecommunications (the "Fust"). The Fust can be used not only to fund the render of the telecommunications service as such, but also for the supply of the terminal equipment, which can be very attractive from a business perspective to the extent that it will allow the offer of the services to a niche of the population that would otherwise be unable to access such services. Fust collected and still available for use is of approximately R$ 2 billion.
Although rather extensive, the regulation approved by Anatel still has many open points. Accordingly, a good deal of contribution is expected to be received from society in general as well as from the major market players involved. Finally, Anatel will soon submit for public comments the General Granting Plan (Plano Geral de Outorgas, or "PGO") and the General Universal Goals Plan (Plano Geral de Metas de UniversalizaĆ§Ć£o, or the "PGMU"), which regulate in further detail some important aspects of this new service.
For more information please contact :

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?