DesignNine – VoIP Blocking Will Kill Economic Development

July 21, 2006

Good blurb on the effects of a protectionist strategy. Skip to the second paragraph for a particularly good point relative to our own economic growth in Belize.

Original Story:

What I and others have been predicting for years is starting to come to pass. As the number of broadband providers has narrowed to a duopoly of the cable and phone company in most regions, these firms are starting to muscle out third party service providers. VoIP startups are the first target because both the phone and cable company want VoIP customers of their own, and the simplest way to do that is to simply block all VoIP data packets except their own. Evidence of this is clearly visible as hardware manufacturers begin to sell VoIP blocking appliances.

This is the strongest argument of all for community broadband infrastructure, which is offered as a level playing field for all service providers. Community leaders that simply hand over the economic development keys to a monopoloy broadband provider by doing nothing are consigning their communities to a slow death. Businesses will avoid regions where there is monopoly control of services (that is, all telecom costs will be higher there). New businesses will have a harder time starting, and entrepreneurs will pick up their families and move elsewhere.

The opening shots are being fired. The goal is to kill competition and create monopoloy markets where a private company decides what services your community and businesses get, and at what price. How will your region respond?

Advertisements – Will VoIP Join The Telco Counterrevolution?

July 16, 2006

Interesting news on international call blocking…

Original Story 

Voice over IP is clearly a revolutionary technology. It has the power to topple traditional technical, business, and regulatory models. Having the power and using it, though, are two different things. VoIP could just as easily become a tool of entrenched telcos, part of the status quo they’re trying to protect rather than the competitive turmoil they’re trying to prevent.

Which way it will go remains an open question. But the front line in this epic struggle between the established and the disruptive for control of a rapidly evolving technology will be efforts by telcos and other well-funded VoIP providers to block competitors’ VoIP on their networks. It’s a technically tricky and politically delicate task rife with contradiction.

VoIP blocking actually has a long and colorful history in much of the world. The blocking can be as blatant as closing a router port, or as subtle as forgetting to follow up on certain kinds of incident reports. It can be regulatory or technical, though regulatory blocking usually requires technical enforcement. Either way, it has long been a weapon by which established telecom companies tried to cripple VoIP’s potential to bring revolutionary change to their markets.

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Encryption Services Part Deux

July 15, 2006

As a follow up to the original post, here is a detailed rundown of the pubic VPN services that are BFIC recommended. Please provide feedback below by “commenting” on the post.

All service costs are in $USD.

Cost: $5.95/mo or $59.95/yr
Client Type: Windows/MacOSX/Linux Built-In Services
Performance: BTL blocked access to its gateway servers for 6 hours on 7/14, so it may not be around for much longer. PPTP performance is adequate on a 256k/128k DSL connection. Performance is sluggish to non-existent on a 128k/64k connection, especially with Skype.

Name: AnchorFree Hotspot Shield
Cost: FREE
Client Type: Downloaded Software (Windows 2000/XP) only
Performance: UNTESTED, please provide a comment

Name: Witopia PersonalVPN
Website: WiTopia.Net
Cost: $39.99 (Lifetime?)
Client Type: Downloadable Windows and MacOSX Clients
Performance: UNTESTED, please provide a comment

Name: HotSpotVPN
Type: SSL VPN – Various Encryption Strengths
Cost: $10.88 – $13.88 /mo
Client: Open Source Clients (Free) From Numerous Sites, Support for ALL Operating Systems
Performance: UNTESTED, please provide a comment

BTL Is Ignoring The PUC Ruling, Can They Do That?

July 10, 2006

Apparently they can.

Over a week ago, the Belize PUC released their guidelines specifically permitting PC-to-PC calling software like Skype, MSN and Yahoo. The greedmongers at BTL are officially ignoring their framework and still blocking ALL INTERNET PHONE SERVICES. This ridiculous behavior is sending their own organization and thousands of confused BTL customers into total disarray.

PUC, What is your purpose again? At what point do BTL’s actions this become criminal? Could the electricity and water companies you regulate get away with such voilations? Who is protecting us?

Do you realize the extent of the PR nightmare you are causing with your “framework”? In the world telecommunications community, we are now lumped in with China and Saudi Arabia. How does it feel to have placed Belize on a short list that includes those names? Did you know that in Saudi Arabia, the accepted punishment for robbery is to amputate one of the thief’s limbs?

Most countries allow ALL kinds of VoIP service. Where did you miss this fact in all the “meetings” you conducted when formulating this framework?

Here is what people are saying:

“If someone in the US wants to call and make a reservation to stay at a hotel in Belize and the hotel has a Vonage number, they are cut off. BTL and GOB currently make NO MONEY on incoming calls. So why cut off your nose to spite your face? Even if they allowed incoming calls, it would make it MUCH EASIER for prospective tourists, developers, investors, etc. to get in touch with someone in Belize. But now, they will be unable to.” (shuffles, Message Board)

“Bottom line, they have managed to block VOIP at the expense of screwing up all their other services. No body wins except Michael Ashcroft, the rich Brit, who now owns controlling interest in BTL. The money all goes off shore.” (scubawalk, Message Board)

“We let them get away with an illegal rate hike… we let them get away with not paying us back for illegal overbilling… are we going to now let them get away with restricting how we use the services we are already overcharged for?” (cameraman, Message Board)

“BTL will do what ever they want. They are a monopoly and the PUC has no enforcement authority. The only way to hurt them is to cancel your service. Oh, can’t do that, there are not options. Except satellite. DSL is nice, but I think I’ll keep my Hughes Net service a few more months, just to see how things shake out. I was planning to cancel it in July, but maybe I’ll cancel BTL instead.” (Seagrape49, Message Board)

NY Times – Internet Calling Pressures Bells to Lower Rates

July 3, 2006


Competition in the phone business, intensifying this year as Internet-based calling has taken root, has reached the point where many industry experts are anticipating an era of remarkably cheap and even free calls.

That era would be built on a vast migration of phone service from traditional networks to the Internet, where the calls become just another way to use Internet connections that consumers are paying for anyway.

“People are going to look at voice communications as something they expect to get for free,” said Henry Gomez, general manager of Skype, which eBay bought last year for $2.6 billion. The company usually charges a few cents a minute for calls from computers to regular phones, but in May it eliminated those fees through the end of the year for users in the United States and Canada.

New competitors, including the major cable companies and start-ups like Vonage and SunRocket, are putting intense pressure on traditional phone companies like AT&T and Verizon that have built multibillion-dollar empires by selling phone service over copper wires. On the defensive, AT&T and Verizon are discounting heavily and pushing customers toward packages of more advanced services.

Online services like Skype that offer free calls from computer to computer for users with headsets have attracted the tech-savvy and are trying to push into the mainstream. In the process, they are dragging down everyone else’s prices and pointing the way toward a time when it will be harder and harder for companies to charge anything for a basic home phone line on its own.

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