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IP Inferno

advanced IP applications are the fire burning down traditional telecom

Updated: 2017-10-11T22:56:46.688-07:00


The Game is Fixed


If AT&T was a blackjack dealer, it would deal two cards to each player and then turn the rest of the cards over and select the best remaining cards for itself. This is more or less how it works right now for alternative network access vendors like Covad. There is the occasional "blackjack!" for Covad when working to install a bonded T1 or other wired Internet connection for its customers. But as often as not AT&T is one step ahead -- in my case for example, there was "insufficient equipment" available to provide a bonded T1 (I was participating in a blogger evaluation program run by Comunicano for Covad).

The United States now lags the rest of the developed world in access speeds for Internet connectivity. Instead of spurring competition, the Bush administration has overseen a re-assembly of the AT&T monopoly ("hey, didn't we already destroy the deathstar? Do we have to do it again?"). And to make matters worse, now just by complaining about AT&T, they can terminate my service.

Anytime a company starts operating like a power-drunk sovereign, its a good sign that competitive balances are out of whack. I for one am hoping that Covad can build up their fixed wireless network as an alternative to the copper wire monopoly our government has granted to AT&T. Not that this will help me, my house is in a canyon without a line-of-sight to Covad's POP in Oakland.

I guess I better fall on my knees now and ask forgiveness of AT&T -- please, please don't cut me off!

Broadband Data Improvement (S.1492)


Ah, the boring but important department. What is your government doing for you? Passing pork barrel funding for rural telcos and failing to demand better data connectivity from the protected telecom monopolies that they have created... What, you ask, is this 1984?

Back to the future! The breakup of Ma-bell has all but been reversed. We now have two telephone companies in this country - Verizon and AT&T. And since they operate in non-overlapping markets, the effect is that consumers of telecommunications services are forced to deal with a monopoly.

Which is partly why "broadband" continues to be defined as 200K by the FCC. The best interests of the telecom operators are served by making as much money as possible from the existing physical plan investments before upgrading.

Sadly, this is not being challenged by the US Senate in their so-called "Broadband Data Improvement Act" (S.1492). Our old favorite Dan Inouye (D-HI) who has done such a great job of bringing millions of Federal dollars to his state to improve data connectivity for a handful of houses is behind this new bill.

But what will be done to create incentives for the monopolists to have our country remain competitive with the rest of the world in broadband connectivity? Apparently very little (if anything). Here is what S.1492 promises:

  • Direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reevaluate its current 200 kilobit broadband standard. It also would require the FCC to create a new metric known as "second generation broadband" to be used to reflect network connections capable of reliably transmitting high-definition video content.

  • Direct broadband providers to report broadband availability and second generation broadband connections within 9-digit zip code areas.

  • Direct the FCC to conduct inquiries into the deployment of advanced telecommunications services on an annual, rather than periodic, basis.

  • Direct the Census Bureau to include a question in its American Community Survey that assesses levels of residential computer use and dial-up versus broadband Internet subscribership.

  • Direct the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to develop broadband metrics that may be used to provide consumers with broadband connection cost and capability information and improve the process of comparing the deployment and penetration of broadband in the United States with other countries.

  • Direct the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy to conduct a study evaluating the impact of broadband speed and price on small businesses.

  • Authorize a 5-year, $40 million per year program that would provide matching grants to State non-profit, public-private partnerships in support of efforts to more accurately identify barriers to broadband adoption throughout the State.

In other words, the bill would direct the FCC to study the question of what it means for us to remain competitive with the rest of the world while throwing a little money ($40 million) to states to give money to... who? Private companies that are "identifying barriers to broadband adoption?" If it squeals like a pig, it is probably pork.

FCC and Inter-Carrier Compensation


In my mailbox this morning, some interesting thoughts on recent FCC rulings from the good folks at Womble Carlyle Sandridge and Rice...

Here is a direct copy paste from their email:

1. Asymmetrical Intercarrier Compensation. Wholesale carriers (and not their customers) are obligated to pay intercarrier compensation to incumbent LECs. The FCC makes no mention of any incumbent LEC obligation to compensate wholesale carriers for traffic termination. The FCC expressly punted on addressing intercarrier compensation for VoIP traffic under
section 251(b)(5).

2. Limited Interconnection Rights. Although the order establishes an interconnection requirement under section 251(a), no interconnection finding is made under section 251(c). Under 251(c), competitors are entitled to interconnection: (i) at any technically feasible point; (ii) on terms and conditions that are just, reasonable and nondiscriminatory; and (iii) at cost-based rates. 251(a) interconnection – provided for in the order – contains none of these safeguards. Expect special access pricing and terms.

3. Broad Definition of Wholesale. The FCC clarified that the statutory classification of a wholesaler’s customer – as either an “information service” or “telecommunication service” – is irrelevant to a wholesaler’s ability to interconnect with a LEC under sections 251(a) and (b).

4. Action on Delegated Authority. Because the Bureau acted on delegated authority, parties may not appeal any aspect of the order directly to circuit court. Rather, parties must file either (but not both) an “application for review” or a “petition for reconsideration.” An application for review would put matters before the full Commission. A petition for reconsideration would go to the Bureau, which may refer such a petition to the full Commission.

eTel Blogger Dinner


Thanks to Andy Abramson for a fun time last night at Roti Indian Bistro. 30 something bloggers, media folks, and a few company execs showed up to enjoy good conversation and good food.

Redknee public on AIM


Redknee has NO offices in the United States. Really. Look here at their info page. And now they have chosen to go public on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange.

While liquidity is not as good on the AIM as on NASDAQ, it is easy to understand why Redknee (AIM : RKN) would make this decision in just two words -- Sarbannes Oxley. As ThinkBlog points out:
SOX compliance can easily cost $2 million for a small, emerging growth company.
I think that number is on the low side. When I was an executive officer at Borland we estimated that Sarbannes Oxley was costing us $1 million per quarter when you took into account lost time from employees and executives due to compliance issues.

ThinkBlog explains a few more of the benefits:

Besides escaping SOX and other choking US regulations, AIM gives listing companies other benefits as well. In general, it takes 12-16 weeks to get listed on AIM as opposed to the typical 4-6 months in the US. Listing fees are 1/3 or less of what they are on the NYSE or NASDAQ.

Reporting requirements are 2x a year as opposed to 4x, and shareholders aren't required to approve most actions.

I suspect we will be seeing a lot more companies choosing AIM over NASDAQ... and maybe avoiding a US office altogether. At least until we can recover from the abuses of the few and reinstate rational business practices here in the Stats.

Twitter: Why you should care


I have been playing with a new service from the folks who created Blogger. There new company is called Obvious, I guess because from where they sit, the idea behind twitter is obvious...

And what is that idea? That people would love to blather all day long about what they are up to and that other people (presumably their friends) would like to read this blather... So you can post to your twitter page from IM, SMS, or from a web page (there are also some interesting native apps like twitterific) and your running stream of consciousness comes out on your page (or rss etc):

Then, your friends (or stalkers) can subscribe to your stream and get ongoing updates in their IM or SMS or web page on what you are up to... You can even "nudge" someone who hasn't posted in awhile to find out what he/she is up to...

Why should you care? Pay attention you old farts! This is where the youth are spending their time. This is the next evolutionary step beyond IM. Our children will live in a world in which the barriers of time and space have been demolished by technology. Our children and their friends will have a constant ongoing connection with their friends whether they are in the same room together or on different continents. Text is the first way that it will be done, though services like radar hope to make it about photos and videos as well. The future of ubiquitous IP connectivity is applications like twitter that just let us be digitally touching each other all of the time...

Making Voice Mails Public


The crazies over at GotVoice are about to piss off a whole bunch of people by providing an intriguing new service that will let you take a voice mail you have received through their system and make it public... for anyone to hear! From their PR spam:
VoiceMagnet will allow consumers to post nasty, mean, crazy, or just downright weird voicemails to a central place online for all the world to hear! This could make voicemail the newest “smoking gun”.
I hope they have figured out the revenue model on this one -- get a cut of the legal fees as stupid people leaving wicked messages decide to use the US legal system to get the messages removed from the Internet (and punish the posters...)

GrandCentral and Gizmo Project


I generally do not blog the random press releases hurled my way, but as I genuinely love Gizmo Project, I am dutifully reporting that GrandCentral and Gizmo Project are announcing a deal tomorrow morning... from the PR folks:
Tomorrow morning, GrandCentral Communications, Inc. will announce its service is now interoperable with Gizmo Project, SipPhone’s popular Voice over IP (VoIP) service that allows users to make and receive free phone calls worldwide over the Internet on personal computers as well as select Nokia mobile phones and Internet Tablets.
What does that mean for the average Gizmo Project user? Access to the cool "next-generation" features of GrandCentral - "One number, for life." GrandCentral basically call redirects based on your preferences - with some nifty features like caller specific greetings.

The future is WiFi


3GSM time of year, and a worthwhile time to reflect on the future of wireless communications. I have written before about AWN - anarchic wireless networks. It is interesting to reflect once again about the advantages of WiFi vs. commercial 3G networks as the champagne flows in Barcelona.

Presuming coordinated access that rivals 3G networks for ease of access (via FON or something similar) why would a consumer ever wish to utilize a high fee commercial wireless network? Today there is really only one reason, and even it points out an opportunity for technology to improve as opposed to a fundamental flaw in WiFi.

There are two core use cases for mobile IP connectivity -- stationary and in-motion. For stationary mobile users (let's say you have stopped at your local coffee shop), WiFi is as good if not better than other wireless technologies. Only when you are in motion does the superior connection handling technology of a 3G network offer an advantage over simple WiFi connectivity.

Sure, you could argue that 3G does a better job than WiFi when handling high demand situations or you could argue that 3G will always be more ubiquitous than WiFi. But the cost advantage of a free wireless network would far outweigh these marginal inconveniences.

Blogger will run CES


So says Andy Abramson in a thoughtful post today. He writes in part:
...the usually dismissive approach many old school PR people have taken of bloggers and online journalists will have to change. Heck it better.
Should be an exciting show. I know I'll be paying a heck of a lot more attention to what my favorite bloggers are saying than anything in the media.

Comments now moderated


Thanks to alert readers Zack and Luca I have turned on comment moderation. To be honest, I didn't know blogger had implemented comment moderation! Where have I been? I still think that we should be working to get ICANN and registrars to have policies against spammers... I am not giving up, merely making a tactical retreat into comment moderation.

Blogiast - Join with me to stop Irritating Spammer


If you write about VoIP you probably get spam comments to your blog, as I do. Lately I have been receiving a torrent of them from a user named "Blogiast" -- flogging a useless website. Rather than just keep deleting his posts, I decided to track him down. After not receiving any response to email sent to the email address of the domain owner in question, I decided to contact the registrar of the domain and complain about the behavior of its owner. This message actually received a reply. Here it is:
Dear Mr. Shelton,

thank you for the information.
Unfortunately the domain owner does not use our servers, therefore we cannot
see where the spam is coming from.
We cannot help you in this matter, if the domain owner is spamming your blog
please contact him directly.

There is no legal possibility to switch his domain of because of some entries
in a bog (sic), sorry.

If you have evidence that the address provided in our whois is not correct
please inform me and we will contact our customer in order to get actual data.

Best regards,

Marius Wunner

- - - - -

ICANN Accredited Registrar
Marius Wunner
Maximilianstr. 6
93047 Regensburg

Tel. +49 941 595 590
Fax. +49 941 595 79050
I urge all of you to do as I have and contact PSI-USA, Inc. to express your concern about blog comment spam. Registrars should have policies which allow them to shut off services to bad net citizens. Here is what I wrote to him:

Thank you for your email. I have, of course, attempted to contact the registrant directly. The spam comments have continued.

I am certain that you are as worried as I am about the degradation of the Internet by spammers. If our email boxes and blog comments fill with useless spam we will be forced to abandon emailing and blogging. While no one individual or company can solve this problem, we can all make a difference by standing up to the problem -- I urge you to have a company policy which clearly communicates to your customers that misuse of this kind will result in a forfeiture of services.

Ted Shelton
If we all just sit here and spend our time deleting spam, it will continue. But we are a community and we can band together to track down and stop anti-social behavior. The first step in this thousand mile journey is to contact Marius, the company he works for, and ICANN. Let's do it!

Hypothesis: Cellular Companies Buy WiFi Licenses to Squash WiFi


No direct evidence to support this hypothesis -- but why is Sprint's WiFi service at the Oakland Airport (a) so bad and (b) so expensive? Is it because they would rather have me using their cellular data services? So did they purchase the exclusive license to WiFi at Oakland's Airport in order to screw it up? Anyone know?

Senator Feinstein on the Specter NSA Bill


September 27, 2006

Mr. Edward Shelton

Dear Mr. Shelton:

Thank you for writing to me about Senator
Specter's proposed changes to the proposed National
Security Surveillance Act of 2006. I welcome the
opportunity to respond.

As a member of both the Senate Intelligence and
Judiciary Committees, I have been briefed on the
operational details of the electronic surveillance program.
It is my belief that the program could and should be
conducted in accordance with the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act (FISA).

I do not support Senator Specter's legislation in its
current form.

Senator Specter's proposal would eliminate the
current individual warrant approach that has been used
by the FISA court for electronic surveillance for more
than 25 years, and replace it with a "program" warrant
approach that has never been tried. His bill also removes
the current exclusivity of FISA, in effect endorsing the
President's decision to gather intelligence outside of the
laws we have enacted. Finally, Senator Specter's
legislation makes many far-reaching changes to the
existing FISA statute in ways that have not been
adequately examined.

I have worked with Senator Specter separately to
introduce different legislation so that all content
collection of electronic surveillance for foreign
intelligence purposes is conducted within the existing
FISA framework. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Improvement and Enhancement Act of 2006, S. 3001,
has been endorsed by the American Bar Association. My
bill would restate that FISA is the exclusive authority for
content collection, mandate that no federal funds be spent
on such activities that do not comply with FISA, and
eliminate administrative roadblocks that the Attorney
General says hinder his ability to bring cases directly to
the FISA court. I believe this option is substantially
more desirable than the bill drafted by Senator Specter in
coordination with the Administration.

Again, thank you for writing. I hope that you will
continue to write to me on issues of importance to you.
Best regards.

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Further information about my position on issues of concern to California and the Nation are available at my website You can also receive electronic e-mail updates by subscribing to my e-mail list at

Senator Boxer on The Specter NSA Bill


Date: September 26, 2006 8:20:34 AM PDT
Subject: Responding to your message

Dear Mr. Shelton:

Thank you for contacting me regarding ongoing reports of domestic spying. I appreciate the opportunity to review your comments on this important issue, and I share your concerns.

As you know, President Bush has repeatedly authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to eavesdrop on American citizens and others without the necessary approvals from Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts. I am appalled that President Bush went outside the law and subverted the system of checks and balances that is so vital to our democracy.

That is why I am pleased to report that on August 17, 2006,U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruled that the Administration's NSA eavesdropping program is unconstitutional and should cease immediately.

However, pending the Administration's appeal of this ruling, I remain concerned about the recent deal between Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) and the White House. The Bush Administration has agreed to submit the NSA spying program for limited judicial review only if Congress passes Senator Specter's new "compromise" bill, S.2453, without amendments.

This "compromise" bill, which is currently being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee, appears to do nothing to curb the Bush Administration's use of warrantless wiretapping. It would also limit Congressional and judicial oversight of the warrantless wiretapping program.

Please be assured that I will keep monitoring this situation closely and do all I can to make sure that the American people do not have to choose between their security and their liberty.

Again, thank you for writing to me. Please do not hesitate to contact me about this or any other issue of concern to you.

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

Please visit my website at

Stop White House/Specter Surveillance Bill


EFF's lawsuit against AT&T aims to expose and stop its collaboration with the NSA's massive spying program. But the White House and Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) have reportedly come to a sham compromise that would sweep this illegal activity and any further government surveillance under the rug, shuffling legal challenges out of the traditional court system and into the shadowy FISA courts.

Specter's draft bill would stack the deck against anyone suing to stop illegal surveillance, including the wholesale violation of the Fourth Amendment alleged in EFF's case. The FISA courts' secret proceedings -- where only the government gets to present arguments -- violate our nation's tradition of openness and transparency in the court system. Burying legal challenges in these secret courts will cut off meaningful judicial review.

Worse still, the bill tries to make an end-run around the Fourth Amendment by creating a secret, Congressionally-sanctioned approval process for future dragnet spying programs. Without the public ever knowing, the Attorney General would be able to covertly obtain general warrants that let the government spy on everyone.
URGENT: Tell your congressperson to vote against this bill!

US Falling Behind in Broadband


Say what you want about whether we are better off with monopolies or competition in the broadband market, but the reality is that the US is falling further and further behind the rest of the world in this critical technology area. Muniwireless writes about a new report out from Free Press, the Consuemr Federation of America and Consumer's Union.

The new report tells us what we already know as consumers:
"Broadband Reality Check II exposes the truth behind America’s digital decline: A failed broadband policy that has left Americans with higher prices, slower speeds and no meaningful competition for high-speed Internet service."
Among the key findings:

The US is 16th overall in broadband penetration

U.S. consumers pay nearly twice as much as the Japanese for connections that are 20 times as slow

To read the executive summary of Broadband Reality Check II, go to

To read the full report, go to

Got Voice?


For the past few weeks I have been testing a new service, GotVoice, from a company based in Kirkland Washington with an interesting idea -- how can you profit from the stupidity of the phone company? Now perhaps that isn't the way that company executives in Kirkland would describe their strategic plan, but its hard not to look at them and think, "this is yet more evidence of how stupid US telecommunications companies are."

The idea is simple (too simple, you'd think). How can I have access to my home and cell voice mail from the web and through email? If we had telephone companies that knew how to build services that customers wanted, this wouldn't even be a question. But there is NO innovation going on at the phone company (fill in your favorite one, or AT&T if you are reading this after they have bought everyone else). Thus companies like GotVoice can come along and fill in the niche.

Here's how it works -- You sign up for an account with GotVoice (basic service is free, but added features are available at $4.95 and $9.95 a month) and give them your phone company, phone number, and voicemail "PIN" -- they will then place a call on a regular basis to your voice mail box, record your messages, and send you an email letting you know you have a message (or email you the message as an MP3 with a premium plan).

But this is absurd! Why can't the phone company simply email me the message? Why do I need a third party to glue voice mail and email together? Perhaps someone in the finance department of AT&T found a study conducted in the early 1990s which said that none of their customers wanted voice mails in their email... or maybe they have a trial of voicemail to email right now but they are only rolling it out in 3 small test markets over the next two years... or maybe they don't actually care at all about their customers and never think about introducing new products that we actually want!

In the meantime, Got Voice?

Intellectual Property and Pricing


Today a different kind of IP here on IP Inferno, although I believe that the issues confronting our creative industries are parallel and related to those that confront the technology industry. There is an ongoing debate amongst a set of thinkers on the relationship of PRICE to COST, in particular as applied to products that are largely (or entirely) made up of this flimsy stuff we call intellectual property. When your product is bits and not atoms, should costs of manufacturing and distribution have anything to do with price?

Solveig Singleton addresses this issue in a recent blog post on IP central entitled "The Marginal Cost Fallacy, Again" in which she argues that the idea that marginal cost would have anything to do with pricing is an academic notion, not intended to have any application in the real world. This is in response to an interview with Defective By Design, an anti-DRM activist organization. In the interview, the ant-DRM advocates ask:
When we live in a age where all digital works of art and all human knowledge can be transferred at (next to) zero cost, and where the cost of making one more copy is zero. Is it right to be building digital fences and digital handcuffs around this art and knowledge?
Solveig sees in this an argument that prices for IP should relate to costs and points out that this connection is not a necessary connection.

But the component of the equation which appears to be lacking in Solveig's observations is the willingness of a consumer to pay a given price. The market's willingness to pay IS a critical component and marginal costs finds its way back into the (real world) calculation via this component.

Lets do some context setting -- cassette tapes provided consumers with a vehicle for duplicating recordings 30 years ago and yet they had a nominal impact on pricing for record albums. Why? Consumers still had to purchase cassettes AND invest their own time and energy into duplication. When a consumer evaluated the cost (in real dollars and time) of duplicating an album, consumers whose time was worth something would opt to buy the album. Consumers whose time was not worth anything likely had little disposable income anyway, and thus wouldn't have bought the album.

But with marginal cost approaching zero for electronic duplication - both in real dollars and tims - the consumer's calculation is quite different. Now it really doesn't make economic sense to purchase the album. Thus you are left with the flimsy bulwark of legal protection for IP to entice a consumer to pay for the album.

When economic incentives are out-of-whack with business practices, does it make sense to do as the RIAA has done and enforce those business practices through legal efforts? Or does it make sense to change those business practices?

15 Years Ago - Net Neutrality Debate 1.0


Denise Caruso over at the Public Knowledge blog writes about the first round of Net Neutrality debates, 15 years ago:’s a slightly shortened version of the May 19, 1991, “Inside Technology” column I wrote for San Francisco Examiner — yes, that’s 15 YEARS ago. I like to think of it as the proto-Net Neutrality problem statement...
She goes on to include an article about how well the "modified final judgement" was working to make sure that we had a competitive telecommunications marketplace here in the US. It includes this great quote from past-FCC commissioner Nicholas Johnson, commenting on why the telcos should not be allowed to sell information services:
“They already suck money out of both ends of the straw,” he said. ”They charge us for getting information out of the system and they charge the supplier for putting it in. They can get rich beyond their wildest dreams of avarice by concentrating on what it is they do best [i.e., renting the conduit] — the mere fact that doing so also happens to serve the public interest should not deter them.”
Denise also asks, "So: how can we kick this debate out of Wonkville and into the Zeitgeist?"



Congratulations to Paul Kapustka and Jeff Pulver on the launch of Vonosphere - an information rich site tracking VoIP and Video-on-net news and breaking some news of its own. I expect we'll see more of Paul now that he has his own TV show... err, Internet show. Doesn't quite replace Amanda Congdon for me but, I like it better than that Joanne Congdon (I mean Colan) show... Anyone other than me think she is trying a little too hard to look like Amanda? Anyway, back to Paul and Vonoshphere. Congratulations! And check out his video on Ed Whitacre. Man, that guy just doesn't come across as trustworthy. I wonder what it is about him?

Senator Feinstein on Network Neutrality


Subject: U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein responding to your message
Date: August 2, 2006 8:15:54 AM PDT

August 2, 2006

Mr. Edward Shelton
xxxx Ave
xxx, California

Dear Mr. Shelton:

Thank you for writing to me about open access to the
Internet and network neutrality. I appreciate hearing from you.

I agree with the general principles of network neutrality
that owners of the networks that provide access to the Internet
should not control how consumers lawfully use that network and
should not be able to discriminate against content provider access
to that network.

As Congress debates changes to our telecommunications
laws this year, many different proposals have been offered
regarding network neutrality. The question arises whether or not
action is needed to ensure unfettered access to the Internet. I
believe any workable solution must balance the needs of the
network, service and information providers. Please know that
when legislation regarding network neutrality comes before the
Senate I will be sure to keep your specific views in mind.

Again, thank you for writing. If you should have any
comments or questions, I hope you will feel free to contact my
Washington, DC staff at (202) 224-3841.

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Further information about my position on issues of concern to California and the Nation are available at my website You can also receive electronic e-mail updates by subscribing to my e-mail list at

USF - Pork Barrel for Politicians (END USF NOW!)


When I recently wrote about how the telecoms are using USF as a political tool to gain advantage over VoIP providers, I failed to explore how it is used by the politicians themselves. In Gordon Cook's excellent blog Cook's Collaborative Edge, he points to an article by Andrew Walden in the Hawaii Reporter with an example of our elected officials stealing our money to help their constituents. How about $500 Million for a new fiber optic communcations network which serves only 5,400 homes?:
In a little-noticed May 16 2005 ruling, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted a waiver necessary to allow Sandwich Isles Communications to complete construction of its $500 million project to link 69 Hawaiian Homelands properties with a fiber optic communications network.
Walden points out that these 5,400 homes already have land lines from Verizon and that satellite based high speed Internet access would cost just $600 or less per home (as opposed to the $93,000 per home hand out from USF). Walden continues in his article, "Unsurprisingly, Sandwich Isles is led by many politically connected directors and corporate officers." According to the article, this was one of the last acts of the FCC under then-chairman Michael Powell, who the article claims was a Naval Academy classmate of Al Hee, president of the company receiving the $500 million. Much more detail and accusations available in this web posting - Vultures of Sandwich Isles.

Cook also points to a terrific study by Thomas Hazlett at George Mason University entitled UNIVERSAL SERVICE FUND SUBSIDIES: WHAT DOES $7 BILLION BUY?

Note to Meg Whitman: Open up Skype!


I am going to be more diligent about promptly posting links to my VoIP magazine columns, starting today. So here is the latest - my open letter to eBay's Meg Whitman urging her to open up the Skype protocol. Meg -- it's going to happen anyway, so why not drive the process and benefit from it? And, as I point out in the column, this could be one of the best ways to fight monopoly telecom, as opposed to sending emails to eBay's users...

Read the full article at VoIP Magazine.

Universal Service or Carrier Bankroll?


My latest opinion piece is up on the VoIP Magazine website. Well, its been up for a week or so, but hey - it's summertime and I've been busy. You probably have been too, so you haven't had a chance to read the latest issue of the magazine (oh yeah, and its only online now). But you should get over there and read my suggestion for solving the latest brouhaha entangling the FCC with their owner/operator telecom companies. My solution to the conflict over the "universal service fund?" End the program. Think I'm crazy? From the article:
Frankly, the goal of universal service has not been achieved over the past 20 years, even after spending $50 Billion dollars. Over the life of the fund this spending resulted in the addition of one phone line for every $16,000 spent. And there are still 5 million households in the US currently without telephone service.
Read the rest at VoIP Magazine