Monday, October 30, 2006

Cox VoIP Hits All Markets

Cox today noted that its VoIP service is now available in all of the company's markets, after upgrading systems in Santa Barbara and Palos Verdes, California. The press release then informs you that while the markets are served, they aren't completely served - that comes in 2007 as the company pushes VoIP to more customers. According to the cable provider, 1.9 million households now use Cox VoIP service.

To be a bit more specific, markets where Cox launched Circuit Switched Telephony starting in late 1996, now offer 2 types of lifeline voice service :

1) Traditional circuit switched voice service, there is an external NIU device on the side of the house which connects to internal phone wiring.. the NIU is powered by the cable network.

2) Packet switched voice service, connectivity is provided by an eMTA in the home. This device has a battery backup, which is required for lifeline service. Sounds like VOIP, but key differences.

Lifeline services are provided due to standby powering, and alarm companies such as ADT support both delivery mechanisms.

So, unlike most popular VOIP products, these voice delivery options provide ALL lifeline services including e911, CALEA, stays on when power goes out, not subject to Internet traffic delays because voice packets do not leave the Cox network where they get QOS.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Opportunity For Value Added Resellers (VAR) Of Telephone Systems, Equipment, And Network Installation

We're looking for telephone system dealers and installers involved with pbx systems, including Avaya, Nortel, Cisco, NEC, Artisoft, Toshiba, 3Com-NBX, AT&T, Bogen, Comdial, Executone, Fujitsu/Focus, Harris, Inter-Tel, ITT, Meridian, NEC, Nortel, Plantronics, Prostar, Siemens/Rolm, Telco Systems, Telesynergy, Telrad, Toshiba, Asterisk, Avaya, Cisco, Ericcson, Extrom, GTE, Hitachi, Isoetec, Lucent, Mitel, Nitsuko, Panasonic, Polycom, Samsung, Tel-Plus, Telect, Tellabs, TIE, ADTRAN, A+, Artisoft, Linksys, Zultys, and more.

We're also looking for network dealers and installers for Advantech, CePoint Networks, Cisco Systems, Extreme Networks, Foundry Networks, Emulex, Juniper Networks, Linksys, Netopia, Redback Networks, Qlogic, Motorola, and SBS Technologies.

Additionally, we're interested in VARs for any of the following ipPBX, and VoIP equipment brands including 3Com-NBX, Artisoft, ADTRAN, Accutone, Adix, AltiGen, Amtelco, A+, Avaya, Bogen, Cisco, Executone, Asterisk, Extrom, Hitachi, Fujitsu/Focus, Nitsuko, Meridian, Polycom, Prostar, Plantronics, Samsung, Telco Systems, Telect, Tel-Plus, Telesynergy, Telrad, Applied Voice Technology (AVT), Artisoft, Aspect, Asterisk, Asuzi, AT&T, Atlas, Avaya, AVG-Eagle, BBS Telecom, Bizfon, Bosch, Cisco, Cohort, COM2001 Technologies, Comdial, Computer Talk Technology, Cortelco Kellogg, Creative Integrated Systems, Dash, Dba Telecom, Duvoice, Encore, Ericsson, Estech (ESI), Executone, Extrom, FCI, Flash Communications, Fujitsu, Galaxy, Harris, Hitachi, IDS, Intecom, Inter-Tel, Interactive Intelligence, Isotec, ITT, Iwatsu, Kanda, KS Telecom, Lucent Technologies, Macrotel, MCK Communications, Merlin, Mitel, NBX Corporation, NEC Communications, Newtronix, Nitsuko America, Nortel Networks, Northcom, OmniLink, Omega, Premier, Picazo Communications Quintum, Prostar, Redcom, Samsung, Spectralink, Spirit, Sprint, Starplus, Rolm, Teleco, Tadrian, TalkSwitch, Telematrix, Telrad, TIE, TMC, Toshiba, TouchWave, TransTel, Teltronics, Triad, Trilium, TT Systems, Vodavi, Walker, and more.

We're offering an additional resource to all VARs of the above for equipment and network sales and installation leads.

You'll find more information here......

VAR Network

VAR Partner

Monday, October 23, 2006

Is IP The Most Cost Effective Choice For Your Business Communication Applications?

Too often a business assumes that IP based solutions are the best choice to satisfy their communication requirements. Particulalrly with convergence issues. But....don't get caught making a hasty decision. There are viable options...and factors to consider before making a final choice.

One of the problems with convergence is protocol, starting with IP.

While we tend to think in terms of Internet and IP, there are alternatives.

Dedicated circuits come to mind, followed by frame relay. One option that hasn't gotten much exposure but may offer some real advantages is Gigabit Ethernet via fiber optics. The fiber overcomes the distance limitations associated with Ethernet. Ethernet allows for layer 2 switching versus IP based routing. From a private network perspective, this may be an ideal way of lowering overheads and improving latency and jitter issues.

The same applies to other transports such as a private radio network. The IP headers are only one solution to source and destination, and are necessary only when joining the public Internet where IPv4 is the required protocol by agreement (not technical requirement). In 1985, the choice of protocol was still being debated, and Ethernet and Token Ring were still fighting for dominance.

Moving out of IP opens up other opportunities for improved performance and efficiency in other applications besides voice.

From a marketing perspective, "cost effective" applies when taken in the context of the five currencies people use - time, money, security, knowledge, and prestige. Consumerism exists only because people deal in all five currencies and products can find their "cost effective" niche.

"Money is rarely the issue, but when money is the issue it is the only issue."

Fiber to the home or fiber to the curb is a nice thought, and it is becoming more common in new developments here in the US. The economics of this are simple - installing fiber during initial construction costs little more than material at that time, and the cost is buried in the price of the new home to be recouped over 30 years. For the carriers, once a fiber infrastructure is in place at no cost to them its easier to take advantage of it than not. Fiber trunks are routinely installed when major road arteries are reworked. Again, its the economics of reinstalling copper versus installing fiber once the existing facility is compromised by road construction.

Unfortunately, this approach will only get FTTH/FTTC to new developments, For existing neighborhoods, conversion will occur when the providers are faced with a major rework due to natural disaster or infrastructure degradation due to age. To count on fiber anytime soon in these areas would be foolish.

It is possible today to get up to Gigabit Ethernet paths between major metropolitan areas in the US, and to some parts of Japan and Europe, much the way dedicated circuits are ordered. Bandwidth on demand capabilities are available to scale up and down in near real time as needed. Running a long haul Ethernet backbone can be significantly easier and more effective than running a routed backbone or using the Internet as the backbone for many companies. This can include companies that in turn provide services to individual users such as telephony services.

What I am suggesting is a review and selection based on what makes the best business AND technical sense. Is IP the right choice for the telecommunications you are supporting? Step back and take a closer look at ALL your options before deciding.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

....Voice T1 Service....

Too often your company's search for dedicated communication network services will often turn up only those focused exclusively on broadband data (Fractional T1 through OCX).

You will find that we have a unique focus on the ability to deliver voice t1 services also, both local and long distance, including the popular PRI (23 voice channels plus 1 data channel dedicated for the transfer of information, such as Caller ID for example).

Our product specialists have years of experience helping inbound and outbound call centers, customer support centers, hotel and resort complexes, corporate headquarters, medical facilities, and other businesses who rely heavily on reliable business telephone service.

Not only will we help you save you the most money, we'll figure out a way to do it without sacrificing the integrity of your t1 voice service.

Of course we can also deliver Data bandwidth solutions also....T1 thru OCx. Matching your requirements with the best available top tier provider in your area (US only) is our specialty.

So please take advantage of our free consulting and RFQ services....and get just the right voice OR data dedicated solution for your business application(s).

....Voice T1 Service....

Monday, October 16, 2006

Just What Is SIP And SS7.... And How Do They Work With VoIP?

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and Signaling System 7 (SS7) are the common protocols used for transmitting voice across networks. Just how they work with VoIP....or not....opens the door for both concerns and opportunity.

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is a protocol developed by IETF MMUSIC Working Group and proposed standard for initiating, modifying, and terminating an interactive user session that involves multimedia elements such as video, voice, instant messaging, online games, and virtual reality. SIP is a text based, signaling protocol similar to HTTP and SMTP , and its used to create, manage and terminate sessions in an IP based network. A session could be a simple two-way telephone call or it could be a collaborative multi-media conference session.

Entities interacting in a SIP scenario are called User Agents (UA) User Agents may operate in two fashions –

• User Agent Client (UAC): It generates requests and sends those to servers.

• User Agent Server (UAS): It gets requests, processes those requests and generates responses.

SIP works as follows: Callers and callees are identified by SIP addresses. When making a SIP call, a caller first locates the appropriate server and then sends a SIP request. The most common SIP operation is the invitation. Instead of directly reaching the intended callee, a SIP request may be redirected or may trigger a chain of new SIP requests by proxies. Users can register their location(s) with SIP servers.

Now.....how is this different than the SS7 protocol?

Here's a simplied explanation:

Signaling System 7 (SS7) is architecture for performing signaling in support of the call-establishment, billing, routing, and information-exchange functions of the PSTN, whereas SIP is a protocol which is used for maintaining sessions in VOIP.

SS7 are used to set up the vast majority of the world's PSTN telephone calls, where as SIP in used in IP network.

A little more on the differences between SS7 and SIP.

SS7 uses a common channel for signalling call setup and tear down information for circuit switched services. It is common to have hundreds or thousands of voice circuits controlled by a pair of 64 kb/s signalling links. SS7 was specifically designed for circuit switching although it has some very sophisticated additional call control and transaction control capabilities.

SIP is an IP based signalling solution which does not use a separate signalling path, but relies on the IP connectivity from the originator to a Server and thence to the terminating end. It is used for packet based communications and allows for many different call types such as video, gaming interaction etc as well as voice.

As SIP is implemented with the deployment of next generation networks I am certain we will see both some very interesting network behaviours, untold new technical issues as we iron the bugs out and probably new opportunities for fraud. They should be interesting times.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

VPN (Virtual Private Network)....The Solution For Multi-Site Networks

Lately we've come across an increasing number of growing businesses that find themselves needing to communicate securely over the internet. As the number of locations grow, so does the importance of integration and coordination.

A Virtual Private Network can turn the web into a virtual pipe that connects all of the many locations of your enterprise, enabling sensitive data to flow back and forth without the risk of interception.

You can build two types of VPN applications; an intranet VPN and a extranet LAN connection. Both allow users in multiple locations to work in a shared, secure environment. Best of all, a VPN allows you to scale the size of your network quickly and cheaply, compared to the old-school leased T-1 line approach.

We have many T-carriers that specialize in VPN and even in double-encrypted VPN, but best of all we have specialists who have extensive experience that you can draw on to create a cost effective solution for your business.

Even better.....our services are entirely no cost to you. To take advantage of our free consulting simply visit VIRTUAL PRIVATE NETWORK ..... and fill in the details of your application requirements.

Just tell us what you need.....and we'll do the rest.

Monday, October 09, 2006

VoIP Voice Quality - Not There Yet But Not Too Far Away

I have been hearing and reading about lots of complaining concerning the voice quality of a VoIP connection....both residential and business Is this real or memorex (so to speak). Just what are the REAL issues...and where may we (especially businesses) be headed with the maturation of VoIP?

The issue is still that our IP networks are packet based. This is efficient for moving data, but not so good for time and sequence sensitive traffic.

Over private networks, we can adjust the communications elements for session versus packet centric performance. We make sure we have sufficient bandwidth to allow a smooth stream of session traffic (VoIP for example), we adjust prioritization so that session traffic has priority, we change our balancing and routing to insure sessions follow a consistent symmetrical route. The result is a less efficient use of our bandwidth capacity, but a higher quality session for the users. In short, we move away from the purely packet delivery focus and towards a channel like network.

Over the Internet, we lose the ability to optimize our session traffic. The Internet is by design application neutral. The focus is on packet delivery, and each packet is as important as every other packet. At each step in the communications path, the devices are tuned to receive a packet, determine which port to send it out next, and move it on its way. Load balancing across multiple paths, each packet to a given destination may take a unique route. The criteria for success is the delivery of packets error free.

So what is likely to happen? I expect prioritization of session traffic over the carrier networks. They will implement it first for their own services, and the cost of doing so will be recovered from that service revenue. It will be available to individuals, companies, and competing service providers as a premium service. After all, it is a level of delivery above what simple Internet access promises. To work, the carriers will have to agree on respecting each others prioritization when traffic moves from one carrier to another. This will probably be no different than their current method of carrying each others traffic from business sense, and the engineers will quickly work out the technical aspects. The VoIP service companies will scream that this isn't fair, that their service is simply using bandwidth paid for by their customers' access fees. However, session prioritization is not what their customers' have contracted for, so their complaints will be ignored. A new level of access will become common - possibly called Voice Assured or something along that line.

At some point, either a new startup carrier or an existing carrier will decide to market session priority as part of their standard level of service. If sufficient customers switch to get this, the other carriers will follow suit. By that time, most of the networks will have become session prioritized as the standard build.

Big iron will not benefit from all of this.

Some session service providers will lose out to the carriers because their business model relies on the performance of a competitor. Some will step up and pay for session priority so that their customers do not. If they can survive with the reduced margins until session priority becomes the norm, they will retain their customer base.

(Q)Has anyone experienced poor call quality using VoIP?

Yes - of course most people have knowingly or unknowingly. VoIP traffic in all methods of delivery- Skype, Vonage, Cable, IP-PBXs, Peer-2-Peer, softswitches and COs... have varying degrees of voice quality issues in their experiences with VoIP. At least for now.

(Q)Is this a case of poor equipment, poor software, bad connections, or what?

This is a very broad issue. Too many people expect to "just plug it in" and it's going to work- whatever "it" is defined as. The same is true about VoIP due to marketing, misfires, bad judgment, and inexperience.

There are many other reasons too - DSPs which are improving (Fact), software gets fatter which patches the known existing issues and maybe creating a few new unknowns still (My belief), connections- a few in the cables, connectors themselves but everything is relevent to what is defined as VoIP which is just a protocol- what about all those other things to access, control, and transport those packets?

Then - keep in mind that a significant majority of "telephone lines" are copper, TDM based. Longer loops have boosted loop current levels and mixed with IP -- you get echo.

The "list" of issues or causes and effects is just mind boggling. It's not simple or black and white - short answer is "it depends."

Once VoIP can meet those expectations of "just plug it in" then we will in doubt be in a new world of telecom. It's a journey and it will be an adventure for those that tough it out. It will be interesting to see and experience how it all plays out.

(Q)Do you think that less than toll quality voice will be a limit to the growth of VoIP?

No. Less than toll quality isn't a VoIP metric for enterprise or carriers (Big Iron) or the softswitch world either. VoIP as a whole - is improving- at least so says the media. :) Call quality is moving away from what we do for example with software and an appliance to watch voice packets, equipment, and other things... to embedded monitoring call quality within the software itself reporting back across the network. This is significant in when it becomes the norm--- then less expensive solutions to monitor, packet shape, and direct voice packets to their final destinations on time will notably change quality, MOS scores, etc. Who can afford the existing tools other than Big Iron and L-Enterprise ?

(Q)If poor voice quality continues can this cause a backlash against VoIP and a return to Big Iron for some companies?

Not likely. Too much is already invested and proven in the way of the carriers successfully delivery VoIP traffic without the end-user knowing they are in fact on a VoIP segment or call. Ethernet Layer 2 provides a slightly cheaper method of delivery over TDM and since cost is always a factor and as "techniques" improve so will delivery. It isn't likely that a "pull out" will occur.

(Q)What can be done to raise VoIP voice quality to toll grade?

It depends upon which audience is addressed. From where I sit:

1) Training - Certification - Field Experience by those implementing VoIP;

2) Metrics that measure not just MOS but the actual voice packets for jitter, latency, etc and then accountability in the missions of those making the decisions- did we achieve our objective and what were the true costs in doing so and how did it impact us?

3) Timing - hardware isn't getting worse, it's getting better. (That's a fact) The industry is in a learning curve- one that's not going to become stagnant because deliverying VoIP in any form factor is challenging- it's not for those faint of heart. (Implementers)

4) User Expectations - this is one of the greatest failures not just in VoIP but delivery of any telecom / IT service or solution. The expectations are not set and there is a consistent failure of "the meeting of the minds."

5) Benchmarking vs. Hook-Line-Sinker - instead of ramping an entire effort for VoIP cutovers - organizations need to set some bench marking in place first. The temptation to go big vs small because the leaders within the organization need to score a big hit (cost savings).

6) QoS, access, transport, infrastructure - these all apply to any user of VoIP.

Before jumping in, catch up and get into more specifics about what is wanted, methods of delivery, metrics, how VoIP is planned before inking a deal or making a change with someone promising them something better, faster, cheaper - as with anything.

VoIP is here to stay. Sink, swim, or paddle - it's rewarding, it's a beast to manage, challenging and very rewarding for those who are prepared.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Details For The Uniden UIP1868P Whole House VoIP System

Are you looking at getting a broadband phone for your home? Good idea. You can save a ton of cash on all your calling needs. Now...did you know you can have a "whole house" system to cover every place you want a phone in your entire home?

Read on...everything you need to know about the best choice for a whole house system is right here.

The Uniden Whole House VoIP Phone System (UIP1868P) makes setting up and using Packet8 Internet Phone Service a snap - just plug the Ethernet cable from your broadband modem into the base station, configure the built-in router and you're ready to go.

Sleek and attractive, the Whole House VoIP Phone looks good at home or in the office. Designed specifically for Packet8 Internet phone service subscribers, the UIP1868P eliminates the need for a separate router and broadband phone adapter. Fewer boxes means more space and less wires to contend with.

The Uniden UIP1868P is expandable to up to 10 cordless Uniden handsets, enabling subscribers to access their Packet8 service in every room of their home. Also, the built-in router is tuned to prioritize voice packets and manage available bandwidth better than standalone routers.

Packet8 subscribers receive unlimited residential calling in the U.S. and Canada for only $19.99 a month as well as unlimited calling from Packet8 phone to Packet8 phone worldwide. In addition to low international rates, Packet8 standard features include voicemail, caller ID with name, call waiting, 3-way calling and many others that traditional phone services charge extra for.

Uniden Special Offers

* $30 instant discount for new and existing subscribers of either Freedom Annual, Freedom Unlimited, Freedom Unlimited Global or Business 2000 plans on the Uniden UIP1868.

* $50 additional mail-in rebate for new Freedom Annual or Freedom Unlimited subscribers.

Features

* Built-in router
- Designed for prioritization of voice packets
- Manages bandwidth
- Eliminates need for external router purchase and set-up

* Supports up to 10 Uniden digital 5.8GHz accessory handsets
- A cordless phone for every room
- Compatible with existing 5.8Ghz Uniden handsets

* Base keypad and duplex speakerphone
- Hands free calling
- Great for a group setting

* Caller ID handset with Speakerphone
- Hands free calling

* WAN/LAN Routing with built-in firewall
- Protection from viruses

* Do Not Disturb Setting
- Peace and quiet when you want it

* New Message Waiting Indicator with Alert Tone Option
- Never leave a message unheard

* 2-way radio communication
- Communicate throughout your home with walkie-talkie capability

* 20 distinctive rings
- Customize the way you receive calls

* Programmable CID or memory locations
- Enter your frequently called numbers

* Transfer Memory Locations Between Handsets
- Conveniently sync up multiple handsets with your most frequently called
numbers

* Headset Compatibility
- Eliminates neck strain during long phone conversations

* Handset paging
- Locate the cordless units quickly

* English/French/Spanish language support
- Multi-lingual presentation for ease of understanding

* Belt Clip
- Keep a cordless handset with you wherever you go

Specifications

* User Interface 1 foreign exchange station (FXS) RJ-11 telephone port

* LAN Network Interface 1 RJ-45 10/100B-T Ethernet Port - LAN

* WAN Network Interface 1 RJ-45 10/100B-T Ethernet Port - WAN

* Management Interface Managed through LAN Ethernet Port via HTTP-based GUI

* Regulatory Approvals/Compliances US- FCC Part 15 Class B, UL 60950

* Common Software Specification System Configuration
- Secure Web based Configuration
- Automatic Configuration
- HTTP Firmware Upgrade

* Rear Panel DC 12V - Power, connected 12v. 1A Power Adapter

* Dimensions of Base Station (WxHxD) 7.5" x 2.5" x 5.75"

* Weight of Base Station 1.5 lbs.

* Dimensions of Handset (WxHxD) 1.75" x 2" x 6"

* Weight of Handset 0.5 lbs.

* Entire Package Shipment Weight 5 lbs. 7 oz.

More Details

- VoIP G.711 (A-Law, U-Law), G.729
- SIP RFC3261
- SDP RFC2327
- RTP/RTCP RFC 1889
- Carrier Class Interoperability
- DTMF Relay
- Silence Suppression
- Echo Cancellation (16BS)
- QOS Management
- Voice Priority
- Bandwidth Management

- Network Home Router
- NAT based Firewall
- Port Forwarding/Trigging
- DMZ (Host Directed)
- Web Based Configuration and Upgrades
- MAC Address Spoofing
- DHCP Client for WAN Port
- PPPoE Client for WAN Port
- DHCP Server for LAN Port

- Supports 20 clients
- Persistent addressing
- Password Protected Configuration
- Remote Upgrading
- VPN/IPSec Pass-through
- Supports UPNP
- IP Address and Port based IP Filtering

Accessories

The UIP1868P Whole House VoIP System is expandable up to to 10 TCX905 handsets. You can purchase the handset from the following preferred vendors: Hello Direct

Setup

The Uniden UIP1868P Whole House VoIP System with Packet8 Internet Phone Service is a snap to install and start using. Refer to the following documents for instructions on setting up:

UIP1868P

Quick-Start Guide (.pdf)

Router Configuration Guide (.pdf)

UIP1868P User Interface Guide (.pdf)

Notes

* Purchase requires 1 year commitment to one of the following Packet8 service plans Freedom Unlimited, Freedom Annual, Freedom Unlimited Global and Business 2000. If the Freedom Unlimited, Freedom Annual, Freedom Unlimited Global and Business 2000 subscriber terminates Voice Service within twelve (12) months of the initial purchase of the Uniden Whole House VoIP Phone System, 8x8 shall charge a disconnection fee of ninety-nine dollars ($99.00). The Disconnection Fee shall be waived after subscriber completes twelve (12) months of consecutive service.

Existing Packet8 subscribers can upgrade to a Uniden Whole House VoIP Phone System by logging in to their Self Service portal.

For more information on Packet8 and the Uniden Whole House VoIP System go to: Packet8

Monday, October 02, 2006

Legislation Mandating Network Neutrality...The Right Thing?

The US Congress is considering legislation that will either require network neutrality of US carriers, or allow them to prioritize traffic over their own networks specific to their own services. Is this the right thing...and for who? Should US carriers be allowed to prioritize their own traffic over their networks, or should they be required to treat all traffic the same?

I understand the carriers desire to control what and how much goes over their network, but I don't see how prioritizing internet traffic will be beneficial to the end user.

On the other side, isn't his much like what data carriers are doing today with frame relay and ATM, and graceful discard? Customers are given a specific Commited Rate or minimum guarenteed bandwidth. Above that the excess packets are prioritized based on the type of traffic it is. Example if there is congestion, Billy Joe Jim Bob's Tackle and Bait store's excess packets would be dropped before the Florida Highway Patrol, or Wall Street.

I am against more regulation as matter of principal. Governments too often fail to have clear objectives with legislation, and rarely a review process to validate either the continuing validity of the objective or the requirements they have established.

The perception of one "Internet" is false to begin with. Most traffic rides on one or more carrier backbones, and move between carriers at peering points outside of the true Internet. The paths around any carrier who tries to restrict traffic other than his own (which is not the same as prioritizing his own traffic) are too many for any one carrier to be an issue. Prioritizing only becomes an issue when the regular traffic faces congestion based latency.

The key concern would be that a combined carrier would discriminate against competing application service providers. While I understand the concern, there are several natural barriers to this.

First is competing carriers. Any carrier that started on a policy to block particular type of application service would become an immediate target for competing bandwidth providers. The market campaign would be simple - "At (competing carrier) we believe in a level playing field for all services." In American culture, this alone would cause a significant shift in customer preference. This same condition is fertile ground for new carriers.

Next, an SLA can be written to insure performance levels from a customer perspective, regardless of whether the customer is an application service provider or a business user of network services.

Blocking a particular application will prove to be as difficult as blocking spam. Application service providers will find multiple ways to bypass any attempts by carriers to block service.

A blessing in disguise is the likely improvements by network designers and application developers if bandwidth and latency become common issues.

There is no monopoly on the copper loop. Companies other than the copper owner can offer DSL, as well as traditional voice services, over the facility. Its a question of competition. To succeed the competitor has to offer a cost or services advantage while still making a profit. In many areas, the margin for success has been deemed to small to risk the effort.

The former Bells have had to keep their various revenue and resource streams separate for some time now. Local telephone, long distance, and enhanced services (Internet) departments have had limited ability to cooperate internally. These restrictions are due to be lifted later this year unless Congress intervenes.

The move from analog to digital cable has opened the door for cable TV services to expand into traditional telephone services. The rules that constrained the Bells did not always apply to cable providers.

Wireless has become a reasonable alternative for the local loop in many areas. Again, its a matter of competing on cost or service. Where DSL and cable are available, the fixed wireless alternative has been a risky venture. In areas where DSL and cable do not exist, its a question of market size for a particular price. All of these also compete against satellite, which meets broadband needs when latency is not a factor.

Size does matter, though. A broadband carrier today must compete with the world for any Internet services. Since economies of scale come into play, competing on price with a provider like Vonage for VoIP is almost impossible.

VoIP has had an added advantage against traditional telephone providers by being considered simply another application. This means they have been exempt from the fees and taxes local, state, and federal government has put on telephone service here. On a traditional residential phone line in Texas, these fees total more than the basic line rate.

The net neutrality arguments are clouded, confusing, questionable and adding more legislation to an overlegislated industry isn't wise.

Convergence has proven that the telecom regulations are outdated and outmoded and unable to keep up with the technological forces of change.

I would only suggest further reading and a lot of pondering before acting either way - for or against.