Friday, May 13, 2005

I am confused 

If you talk to the average regulator, you hear within five minutes that the Telecommunication Law and the derived regulation is technology neutral and VoIP is just another technology. Ok, if this is the case, I have a question for clarification (to stick to ITU-T terminology):

Why is every regulator in the world making consultations regarding VoIP (some of them already the second or third), making decisions, just to make another consultation after some time? Robert Shaw is pointing at the ITU-T VoIP Newsblog to the ITU-D 2005 Regulatory Proceedings giving a snapshot of the current consulations and decisions.

So if regulation is technology neutral, what is all this fuzz about?

Is VoIP not fitting in the current framework because it is more then just another technology? Is it a new model (to avoid the term paradigm)? Maybe the current framework is flawed and needs an update? So all current activities are only tinkering, not solving the basic problem and making things even worse?

Of course we are talking here about vertical and horizontal models ;-)

It is also interesting to see the winding path regulators are taking regarding VoIP: first regulators where very sceptic, then they remembered that they primarily have to act for the customer and the economy as a whole, and also they wanted to be considered innovative and cool. In the meantime the various lobbies had time to recover and also the really serious issues surfaced, e.g. emergency calls. BTW: one of the most serious issues is still lurking: legal intercept, because here really nobody has any idea how to do this.

Jeff Pulver is analysing the situation in the US regarding 911 in two entries and we will see the outcome next week.

Interesting also the situation in Canada. Bloggers are devided concerning the ruling, especially Ted Wallingford is swimming against the mainstream with his entry Feeding Bell Canada to the Dogs?. Most of his arguments are quite feasible and may also be valid at the moment - and I also was always saying that the incuments should stick to their knitting and provide basically access.

But one should also step back to see the bigger picture:

VoIP cannot be on one side an application for anybody else and on the other side a PATS service because it is offered by an incumbent. So this assumption is flawed from the beginning.

Very funny is the requirement that LECs have allow their customers to select their long distance carriers (para 242). This clearly demonstrates the understanding - I always though on IP I have equal access built in?

I also wonder (maybe because I was not too involved in the details and definitely have not read all 480 paragraphs like Tim Denton) what it means that the incumbents are not able to set their own prices? The monthly rate, or the prices for outcalls, the termination fees or are they even forced to charge for on-net calls?

The whole discussion especially in North America seems to be too much focused on VoIP as cheap POTS replacement, maybe triggered by Vonage et. al.

These implementations are IMHO stillborn anyway.

The reall challenge of the future is real-time communications, converging all types of communication to mobile devices, including presence and location based services. You cannot do this with a terminal adaptor or with an IP-phone pretending to be a steam-phone.

And what about Skype and fixed, mobile and IP convergence?

My friend Lawrence Conroy pointed out today an article dealing with a similar confused issue - copyright laws - by James Boyle : Deconstructing Stupidity in the Financial Times. He especially referred me to the following statement - I have no idea why ;-)
It is as if we had signed an international stupidity pact, one that required us to ignore the evidence, to hand out new rights without asking for the simplest assessment of need.

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