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Vonage Files Regulatory Complaint Over QoS Premium 160

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the not-gonna-take-it dept.
xoip writes "A Recent CBC report says that Vonage Canada has filed a complaint with Federal Regulators over a New $10.00 per month Quality of Service Premium that Broadband Internet provider, Shaw Cable has begun charging customers of VoIP. Noted Internet Legal expert Michael Geist has written an excellent review of the complaint Vonage made to the CRTC and highlights the point made in the Vonage filing, 'that not enough is known at this point about the Shaw service in order to formulate an appropriate regulatory response.'"
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Vonage Files Regulatory Complaint Over QoS Premium

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  • by scrye (169108) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @11:47PM (#14888417) Homepage
    This is a good reason for me not to use thier service anymore. I use primus' VOIP telephone and Ive noticed its cutting in and out lately. This is just bogus and If it continues they will lose me as an internet customer. Shaw also recently announced thier VOIP service so this has to be considered anti-competitive.
    • by Kris2k (676294) on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:22AM (#14888559)

      Actually what you don't know about Primus, is that its not their fault; but Bell Canada who hasn't been maintaining their ATM cloud that interconnects YOU and Primus together.

      So, you can put the blame on the ISP, however, the true blame is the "behind the scenes" carrier that is good old Ma-Bell.

      I've had soo many problems related to Bell's deficiencies, and its nothing that can be easily resolved. I've heard stories as amusing as a remote DLSAM having all of its's subscriber ports FULL, causing a waiting list for ADSL subscription in the area, and, to top-off the frustration, the 45mbps ATM link tops the 100% usage during the evening.

      So, how does the enduser perceive this? The ISP is shitty as hell, tech support is incompetent, so the enduser switches DSL provider to only realize that the crappy speed continues. Next thing you know, he's subscribing to Cable where its suddenly "fast" again.

      There's a lot of the voip glitches that are associated to the back-end carrier that manages the ATM cloud that interconnects the subscriber (you), and the ISP (primus). You can't see it with regular web browsing, but the second you start using realtime protocols, you'll notice it.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        In the past few years I worked as a contractor on Bell Canada's network configuration and analysis software, and also on a system to map their network.

        So I can say with some experience/confidence that you are 100% correct about the pathetic Bell Canada situation. I had never seen such a disaster.
    • by tdzido (960190) on Friday March 10, 2006 @01:23AM (#14888749) Homepage
      Here is a bit of my interesting experience: I'm using the Vonage box on frequent travels to Eastern Europe and I will tell you something - it works WAY better than here, in the US. Actually, it works great there! Crystal clear, no delays. I've had friends who had to cancel their Vonage accounts in major cities such as Chicago or NYC (users of SBC and Comcast). OK, I'm always trying to use the fastest provider available when in Europe, but here is the thing: those European connections are NOT as fast as ours, and I believe it's not about the quality of the connection, it is ONLY about the deprioritization of SIP packets on the US networks, or at least on parts of networks managed by major US ISPs. What would be the other explanation? I can download and upload stuff super fast, I just can't talk on the phone which uses a few kb/s of my hunders k of bandwidth. This is ridiculous. I'm surprised that nobody from the VOIP world has done some serious research and actually sued the big telecoms. Or maybe I'm so wrong making my common-sense assumptions?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It's most certainly not anti-competitive. it's a service that is offered optionally *if* you are having issues with your voip service. most will not need it at all, if someone is, they have the *choice* of paying the extra for QoS for voip. shaw also offers the 'extreme' internet in some areas (working towards all areas slowly), it's an entirely new backend based on docsis 2 (I believe it's 2.0?). the system is being rolled out and any new subscriber will be put onto the docsis system for the usual hig
      • Lies.
        1. If you call in and mention VoIP, that will be the very first thing they suggest that you purchase.
        2. People had "extreme" speeds in the past (actually, faster than what "extreme" is currently). Shaw crippled people's connections, and then had the gall to ask $10 a month to bring them up a little bit. Speeds were better and prices lower in 1998, and have gotten worse and worse since.
        3. Isn't it funny how they offer this right as they unveil their service? We, of course, can't say for sure that they a
        • For once I don't think this is a tinfoil hat thing either. I think that either:
          1) they are stupid and think no one will notice
          2) they are really stupid and their marketing and marketing departments don't talk to each other.

          Either way, they are stupid.
          -nB
    • Regardless of who you use for VoIP, you might gain some knowledge of the underlying issue in this post in the Vonage Canada Forum [vonage-forum.com] on the Vonage Forums: Shaw Issues QoS enhancement surcharge [vonage-forum.com]
  • by From A Far Away Land (930780) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @11:47PM (#14888422) Homepage Journal
    Vonage and other VoIP providers are getting shafted by Sasktel a major Canadian telco. Sasktel is a crown corporation, and own the lines in Saskatchewan. It was only recently that other providers were permitted to sell long distance there, and Saskatchewanians can't get a VoIP phone number with their local area code because Sasktel charges Vonage too much for a block of numbers. They claim they are selling them at a price that's in line with other regions, but how come in every other Canadian province you can get a local area code for your VoIP phone?
    • by biafra (4283) on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:12AM (#14888520)
      Well I can guess that part of the reason things are more expensive there is that the whole provence has a population less than the city of Calgary. Someone has to foot the bill to run coper to every farm and house in the middle of no where. At one point I worked for a major CLEC and we had the central Canadian sales reps constantly begging for us to put a switch into Sask, and we had to deny them just based on the fact that it was not feasable using traditional TDM/POTS to provide service there. In sparsely populated areas you pretty much have to rely on crown corps to provide service at even a close to decent rate, unless you're willing to pay the standard crtc/stentor backhaul charges for a T1 from Calgary to Regina.
    • >Vonage and other VoIP providers are getting shafted by Sasktel a major Canadian
      > telco. Sasktel is a crown corporation, and own the lines in Saskatchewan.

      Of course. They put them in the ground, they own them.

      > It was only recently that other providers were permitted to sell long distance there

      No. It was only recently that SaskTel had to sell them at cost to other providers.

      > and Saskatchewanians can't get a VoIP phone number with their local area code
      > because Sasktel charges Vonage too
    • I am a Canadian cable broadband subscriber, thankfully not a Shaw customer.
      You may be able to get a local area code with Vonage, but at least around here, you can't always get your local exchange prefix. This means I could sign up tomorrow for Vonage and get a number, but when the school calls me to fetch my son, or work calls me in after hours, it's a long distance call for them. This is a major sticking point for me. As near as I can tell, local prefix's are generally only availible in major urban
    • by codegen (103601) on Friday March 10, 2006 @01:26AM (#14888757) Journal
      but how come in every other Canadian province you can get a local area code for your VoIP phone?

      Yeah right. Most VOIP providers will not provide a local number in 613 area code for anything other than the Ottawa area. Those of us in Kingston, Brockville, Cornwall (St. Lawrence Seaway) cannot get a local number. The only one providing local numbers are the ISP based numbers (cable and Bell).
    • Sasktel is a crown corporation, and own the lines in Saskatchewan.

      Who else would? They built the infrastructure, they should own it. Seems simple, no?

      It was only recently that other providers were permitted to sell long distance there

      Well, considering that other providers selling long distance means buying it from SaskTel at cost, selling it at a profit, and not having to build any infrastructure themselves, do you think this is fair? Add to that the fact that the CRTC made SaskTel RAISE their rates to m
  • Does Shaw Cable have competition?

    With higher quality home routers we're going to start seeing groups of people using a single line instead of each getting the service.

    • I'm a Shaw customer. Shaw is primarily a Cable TV company, who also has internet services and VOIP services. Telus is their main competition here in Calgary at least. Telus is primarily a telephone company. Telus also has cellular service, ADSL internet service, dial-up internet service and they are introducing a new Cable TV Service. So, pretty much, with the new services, the two companies compete in all of their products. I never knew Shaw did this...but I use their VOIP service anyways, so it doesn't a
  • Follow the Leader (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:01AM (#14888479) Homepage Journal
    This defensive action by Vonage is a good justification for their somewhat annoying presence in the industry. It would be much more likely to protect the entire industry, including random newcomers, if the various VoIP carriers could get together in an industry association. But they couldn't even get together to grap the pronouncable acronym "VIP". So meanwhile, at least there's an agressive asskicker in Vonage to clear the way for the rest to follow.
    • Not so fast (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This defensive action by Vonage is a good justification for their somewhat annoying presence in the industry.

      I'll dare to take a contrarian view here on Vonage's position, as well as Shaw's. Having dealt with at least a few dozen Vonage customers who have been escalated to second level support and gotten me, I've encountered a rather consistent situation where nearly every customer was told by Vonage support technicians that "their ISP was having problems - call them" yet the real problem ended up being in
      • I don't know what any of that has to do with my post. But then, I don't see how any of those problems have anything to do with Vonage, either. They don't necessarily have anything to do with their ISP, but LAN problems are certainly much more the province of the ISP than the application vendor. If those same people contacted Google because their GMail wasn't working, I wouldn't be surprised if Google told them to call you, too.

        Not that the LAN is the province of the ISP, necessarily. It's one of the grey ar
      • your customers are paying for an internet connection already and you want to charge them extra to actually use it? Why not charge them an extra $20 a month for their online gaming? Or $75 a month if they want to VPN into work? I suspect you didn't work for free troubleshooting your customer's Internet connection problem, nor do your customer's get Internet access for free, so I don't see your problem? You are doing your job. Vonage's customer support may indeed suck, yes I am a customer and know this f
      • by Pxtl (151020)
        Fsck, I had none of that - even straight up Vonage-box plugged into the cable box, and my Rogers service was crap. I had the full plan, and was running Vonage in "bandwidth saver mode" and even then the sound was laggy.

        This was in downtown Hamilton, which should be a large enough city to have decent service.
      • Right, after all, Shaw never has any problems on their end and they _never_ tell the customer to call Vonage.
        It isn't like Shaw oversells their service and ignores the obvious QoS problem that could easily be solved by buying a bit more bandwidth (but, you know, that would cost Shaw money, which, seeing as a Tier 2 "tech" apparantly costs C$75/hour, they don't exactly spend it wisely)
        It isn't like your upstream rates - even without the QoS problems - are a fucking joke - and when people call in with problem
      • every nite i pray on my knees that someone comes in to your offices and beats all you fuckholes to DEATH with blunt objects made of wood
        in the day tho because there arent that many of you during the night
        one day i hope god answers my prayers
    • Hmm, really? VIP, thats a good idea for an acronym, perfectly untaken, and can't be confused with anything else, its too bad there wasn't a Very Important Person that decided that VIP should become the acronym for Voice over internet protocol.
      • Most acronyms under 5 letters are taken. We decode them by contextual scope. People talking telephony or Internet aren't likely to be confused into Very Important Person when they hear someone say "vip".
  • Easy solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DaveAtFraud (460127) on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:02AM (#14888485) Homepage Journal
    If the folks at Shaw Cable would do something about the number of spambots and spammers on their network, they'd have more than enough bandwidth to provide VoIP. This is pretty nominal for my little corner of the internet:
    **Unmatched Entries**
    ruleset=check_rcpt, arg1=<XXXX@davenjudy.org>, relay=S01060014bf9e1ea8.cg.shawcable.net [68.147.163.39], reject=550 5.7.1 <XXXX@davenjudy.org>... Access denied: 3 Time(s)
    STARTTLS=client, relay=cardinal.lhup.edu., version=TLSv1/SSLv3, verify=FAIL, cipher=RC4-MD5, bits=128/128: 3 Time(s)
    STARTTLS=client, relay=valuecity.com.s8a1.psmtp.com., version=TLSv1/SSLv3, verify=FAIL, cipher=AES256-SHA, bits=256/256: 2 Time(s)
    ruleset=check_rcpt, arg1=<XXXX@davenjudy.org>, relay=cable-201-12-181-224.rec.megazon.com.br [201.12.181.224], reject=550 5.7.1 <XXXX@davenjudy.org>... Access denied: 1 Time(s)
    ruleset=check_rcpt, arg1=<XXXX@davenjudy.org>, relay=S010600c0a88bbe6a.cg.shawcable.net [68.146.238.100], reject=550 5.7.1 <XXXX@davenjudy.org>... Access denied: 1 Time(s)
    ruleset=check_rcpt, arg1=<XXXX@davenjudy.org>, relay=S010600152fa8f43f.vc.shawcable.net [24.86.122.21], reject=550 5.7.1 <XXXX@davenjudy.org>... Access denied: 1 Time(s)
    STARTTLS=client, relay=langesales.com., version=TLSv1/SSLv3, verify=FAIL, cipher=RC4-MD5, bits=128/128: 1 Time(s)
    ruleset=check_rcpt, arg1=<XXXX@davenjudy.org>, relay=20151065001.user.veloxzone.com.br [201.51.65.1], reject=550 5.7.1 <XXXX@davenjudy.org>... Access denied: 1 Time(s)
    ruleset=check_rcpt, arg1=<XXXX@davenjudy.org>, relay=[218.29.22.72], reject=550 5.7.1 <XXXX@davenjudy.org>... Access denied: 1 Time(s)
    Yes, I just block everything originating from shawcable.net.
    • This points out an interesting potential "defense" against these QoS premiums.

      Right now the network companies enjoy "common carrier" status. If you download child porn, or transmit a virus to another person's computer, or even run a botnet, the network operator isn't responsible for your actions. You are, because the network isn't really equipped to censor all inappropriate messages.

      Well, now Shaw Cable is saying "hey, look at this VOIP call, we think it's 'bad' data, so we're going to slow it down."

      • Fair point.

        Minor problems:

        1. They are a cable company which means that they do not have a common carrier status in first place as they are an information service provider, not a telecoms provider. Dunno who are their lobbyists, but they are bloody good.

        2. They have a solid technical ground to stand on I am afraid. Besides the bandwidth limit the cable networks also have an uplink packet per second limit because of the way DOCSIS works (look for MAP in the DOCSIS) documentation. So they have technical ground
        • I'm afraid I need to disagree. When the CRTC put the Telcos and Cable Companies at each other's throats through deregulation a number of years ago, both became full common carriers as far as incumbents. If you have the plant in the ground (twisted pair, Coax, fiber) you're the incumbent, and need to provide access to other ILECs and resellers and providers. The aspect of the fine line you outline on #1 is exactly where the CRTC is still moving the guidelines around, and that is the primary opportunity t
      • by loraksus (171574)
        Shaw Cable = In Canada.
    • Just a quick FYI for how long it takes for an e-mail address posted to /. to get harvested:
      Unknown users:

      xxxx@davenjudy.org
      from 81-208-60-207.ip.fastwebnet.it [81.208.60.207] 2 time(s).
      My original post was 9 March at 21:02 and this came in on 10 March at 10:17:26. If I remember, I'll post the first attempts to send to this user from a Shaw Cable account. Shouldn't be too long.

  • I'm a Vonage and Shaw customer, having moved last fall to the Victoria, BC area from Toronto, and want to comment on this.

    First off, while I'm as irritated and confused as everyone else, this fee is optional. Shaw isn't automatically charging people who use VoIP this extra fee. Apparantly, this is an added fee that VoIP users can pay to get better guaranteed QoS for their voice data packets.

    I'm not quite sure how I feel about this, and at this time have no intention to pay the fee. On one hand, giving voice data network prioritization isn't necessarily a bad thing -- most home VoIP NAT routers provide a QoS service to do just this so downloads don't obliterate your ability to use your phone. At the same time, nobody else is charging these fees, and respecting QoS for VoIP packets isn't going to cost Shaw anything, so why should the consumer pay for such a service int he first place?

    Shaw called me a few weeks ago asking me about my phone service, in an attempt to sell me on their new VoIP-based service. I told them I have Vonage. They asked me what services I was getting, and listed off the litany of services I'm getting. Then they asked me the price -- and suffice to say, I'm getting way more from Vonage, and am paying less. The phone jockey on the other end didn't know what to say about that, so just said "Uh, thanks, sorry for bothering you" and hung up.

    As to the actual quality of service I'm getting -- I haven't had a single drop-out in my VoIP service in the two months that I've had it. Not a single blip. However, I also use iChat AV pretty heavily to take to family back home, and I have been having significant drop-outs in both audio and video conferences with family back in Toronto in recent weeks, where these problems didn't exist before. It's hard to say exactly where the fault lies, but I've been getting drop-outs galore in both audio-only and video conference mode between here and Toronto in the last month. I do have to recognise, however, that I do live on an island, and have no idea what the maximum bandwidth is like between the mainland and here. I can only believe that bandwidth usage is increasing, but at this time have no idea whether or not Shaw is working on running more underwater cabling between the mainland and Vancouver Island. It could just be because (due to time zones) my iChat AV conversations generally take place during peak hours.

    So far, Vonage has been problem free, but I'm not a heavy phone user (I'm only paying for the 500 minute/month plan, with another 500 minutes through the soft phone option. I generally don't come even close to the 500 minutes per month). Perhaps I've just been lucky thus far. I have no intention to pay them another $10 a month just to get the service I'm already paying for, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my thus-far trouble free VoIP experience doesn't negatively change in the future.

    Yaz.

    • So, uh, how are you enjoying the snow? :) Out here by Mt Doug the ground is white. I'm sure it'll melt by tomorrow, but it's need while it's around. :)

      I've stuck with Telus and avoided VoIP, because I have zero need for international calls. I mean, sure, maybe a discount rate to Malawi would be nice - but my sister's only going to be there for another two months. Shaw's offers all the features I would possibly want, but the extra monthly charge works out to more than or on-par with my Telus bill, so it's no
      • So, uh, how are you enjoying the snow? :) Out here by Mt Doug the ground is white. I'm sure it'll melt by tomorrow, but it's need while it's around. :)

        Until I saw your post, I hadn't even noticed. Just call me "oblivious guy" :).

        I've stuck with Telus and avoided VoIP, because I have zero need for international calls. I mean, sure, maybe a discount rate to Malawi would be nice - but my sister's only going to be there for another two months. Shaw's offers all the features I would possibly want, but the

    • At the same time, nobody else is charging these fees, and respecting QoS for VoIP packets isn't going to cost Shaw anything, so why should the consumer pay for such a service int he first place?

      Others are talking about charging fees like this. Also, QoS _does_ cost money. Even in a mythical "bandwidth is free" and "everything is connected with $BIGPIPEs" ISP, it would be nice to honor QoS to reduce jitter for VoIP, and that costs the ISP money. Some equipment can't handle it and has to be replaced (for i

      • So why are ISP's asking Google for more money, when QOS has very little to do with retrieving search results? Because telcos are greedy bastards who will do anything to exploit their natural monopoly?

        Why does VoIP run at bitrates very close to modem speeds, but require broadband connections? Because the extra headroom is usually enough to provide sufficiently reliable service.

        Why is it that ISP's can usually support VoIP just fine, until the point that they implement "QOS"? Maybe because it's not abo

    • You make good points, and as long as Shaw isn't intentionally making their service VOIP-unfriendly, this is fine.

      As to why tehy would charge more, $10/mo is a bit steep, but implementing QoS for specific customers for vonage service is an added feature, and it does cost them extra administrative overhead.

      This seems to me like a good move by Shaw that's being misinterpreted by everyone else.

      I've often felt that ISPs like Shaw SHOULD offer several diffent types of QoS:

      1) A basic package where you get to play
      • The only problem, and the only time the CRTC should get inolved, is when they start arbitrarily REDUCING the quality of service for specific protocols. I'm more concerned wiht throttling of bittorrent arbitrarily than I am with offering optional QoS for voip.

        The only other case where the CRTC might get involved is if Shaw is misrepresenting the fee to their customers. I haven't been contacted by Shaw myself, but I've heard reports that Shaw has been calling some Vonage customers and telling them that th

    • Shaw's QoS package is not worth it, and isn't forced on customers who use VoIP. Out in Victoria, webcall (www.webcall.ca) works fantastic with Shaw's 5.0Mbit package. No dropped calls, no delays, no stutter, no problems. Hell, I even started downloading drivers for my radeon at over 100KB/s and my call went along as if it were a real phone line. I don't think Vonage has a leg to stand on.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Well, no... Shaw's Digital Phone is not VoIP-based... not in the traditional sense anyways. I helped build the damn thing in Calgary and it uses PacketCable (which, yes, is based on IP). They have a seperate network for the voice data than their Internet data. You see, there are a myriad frequencies they can send over coax and the "phone modem" talks over a different data channel. Therefore, your voice data doesn't have to compete with the BitTorrent losers and other bandwidth-sucking creeps. It's bett
    • Why should you pay the fee even if it costs them no extra to provide it? -- because with no fee, then each customer has an incentive to set the "QoS" bit on every packet they send. (First just a few users will buy some third-party "web-accelerator" software which sets the bit, and then more users will buy a cheaper version of the web-accelerator, and then everyone will be setting their QoS bit). The QoS bit will inevitably become meaningless. You need pricing to preserve it.

      The french metro system has a ser
    • this fee is optional

      Yes, "optional" as in "do you want to use your voip phone or not"?

      Before you start, keep in mind that Shaw cut (in damn near half) the service for all of their customers a few months ago.
      The cut the speeds, they dropped the bandwidth limit to a paltry 30 gigs, and then - they offered to sell you the level of service you had 6 months ago for an extra $10 a month (and, actally, 6 months ago, the bandwidth cap was 80 gigs, so you can't get the same level of service).

      They degraded your servi
      • Yes, "optional" as in "do you want to use your voip phone or not"?

        Bullshit. As others have said, they're not paying the fee, and VoIP still works.

        keep in mind that Shaw cut (in damn near half) the service for all of their customers a few months ago.

        What the fsck are you smoking? I've been a Shaw customer for 7 years, and their service has been the same as always (as a matter of fact, last year they replaced my working modem *for free* with a new model, and it's faster than ever - I'm getting 6Mbps down an
  • by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:37AM (#14888615) Journal
    I don't have a problem with this IF Shaw is honoring QoS flagged packets and routing them accordingly. If it's just a bullshit fee where Shaw is purposefully degrading service when it identifies VoIP protocols or ports only to restore service when the fee is paid, then I have a problem. I guess what I am trying to say is I think it's OK if you pay to receive an additional service versus paying a fee to restore service you should be receiving in the first place.

    I want to believe Shaw is acting in good faith and offering something to customers of value. Their Internet service has always been very good for me; their mail servers suck, but that's a different story.

    As someone pointed out, if Shaw only dealt with the SPAM zombies and compromised Windows boxes on their network there would be plenty more bandwidth to go around for VoIP. I am currently on Telus and you wouldn't believe the number of intrusion attempts I receive from Shaw netblocks.
    • I am running 30 remote boxes for a business over 30 Shaw cable modems to an Asterisk server via IAX. I am passing TOS bits and I know for a fact that Shaw is dropping the TOS bits. I tested this by running test calls from cable modem to cable modem - all on Shaw, never hopped to another network - and examining the TOS with TCPdump. 0x0. *and* we are paying the $10 extra - they call it "lightspeed" or some such.

      That being said, it ain't that bad with Shaw. Thank god for the Asterisk jitterbuffer, though.
    • If it's just a bullshit fee where Shaw is purposefully degrading service when it identifies VoIP protocols or ports only to restore service when the fee is paid, then I have a problem

      They have no qualms about using packet filters to cripple many other protocols, so I wouldn't exactly be surprised.
  • by PhYrE2k2 (806396) on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:37AM (#14888617)
    Rogers (formerly a Shaw area) around here has Ultra-Lite, Lite, Express (3Mbit down), and Extreme (6Mbit down). Each provides a different maximum speed and level of service for customers who feel the need to save money and receive a service comparable to just over dialup, to extreme for users who want 6Mbit downstream. You get more capability and pay a premium for the ability to burst into higher speeds, despite most users sitting at idle for much of the time, and still having a total transfer cap.

    What Vonage is claiming is that this is different than any other sort of service addition (and that this makes them priced higher than Ma Bell and hence can't compete, or can't compete with similar offerings in the area).

    My argument is that they are saying "our service does not guarentee any latency, and we cater more to raw throughput, the traditional measure. We'll give you the possibility to have less latency, which is useful for real-time uses such as voice and video, but for a fee". How is this different than "we'll give you the possibility to have higher burst speeds useful for mass file transfers".

    Users with specific uses that aren't a part of 'the masses' will get charged. I pay a few dollars a month extra on my phone line for touch-tone. I pay for the ability to use on-demand with Rogers. I pay a premium for GSM versus using EDGE/GPRS. This is life. You pay for what you use. When _everyone_ has a blackberry- then the standard rates will include it. Until then, the people who want e-mail will pay for it, so that those who don't won't have to.

    This of course all assumes that they actually take these into account and that they do benefit their service. If it's a scam, then we have another story.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      As an interesting side note;
      Rogers is also using traffic shaping technology to reduce (supposedly) upstream load on their network. This was introduced after their Digital Phone Service launched, DPS is not VoIP, it uses a seperate part of the cable spectrum. I don't know if the traffic shaping is affecting VoIP, it certainly hits p2p traffic, the timing is suspect though.
    • My concern is that this fee isn't for an add-on feature above and beyond the ISP's existing service - they might just start degrading everybody's latency unilaterally, and only restore it back to normal if you pay the fee.

      Modern businesses seem very adept at chipping away consumer surplus... Anything you take for granted but don't have a legal claim on, they'll just take away and charge you to get it back. Like good QoS for your consumer broadband connection, absence of advertising before movies, ability to
      • they might just start degrading everybody's latency unilaterally, and only restore it back to normal if you pay the fee.

        Technically there's nothing wrong with that. While it's shoddy business practice, that's no different than a cable provider packing more people onto their network, slowing your speed, shaping your traffic, and then offering a premium service... which is exactly what Rogers did (my area used to be so much faster, I used to get 6Mbit downstream for 20-odd bucks CDN a month, and I had no sha

    • The question to me is whether their QoS filtering is done based on consumer-specified TOS fields. If so, I'd be willing to pay extra to get lower latency gaming, since I already mark my gaming packets to be low-latency for routers that care.
  • Is Shaw charing this as soon as they detect vonage service, or is it an optionatl QoS fee you can pay to get guaranteed QoS with vonage?

  • by AmazingRuss (555076) on Friday March 10, 2006 @01:18AM (#14888731)
    I mean, really. Vonage is using telco infrastructure to undercut a major telco profit center, without paying a them a dime for the privelege. Packets don't magically wing their way across the globe, you know.

    If the phone business goes away, telcos are going to have to make up for it somewhere, and the only place left will be bandwidth...that stuff that we get for a flat rate now.

    Metered priority usage paid by the user is the only really fair way to do it. You need a lot of packets, you pay more. You need a lot of fast high priority packets, you pay a lot more.

    Tracking all this is a another can of worms entirely....but dammit, this is how it SHOULD work.
    • If the phone business goes away, telcos are going to have to make up for it somewhere, and the only place left will be bandwidth...that stuff that we get for a flat rate now.

      The problem in this instance being that Shaw is a cable provider, and not a traditional telco. Their own IP-based phone service is quite new (first offered only in the last 2 months I believe, at least here in Victoria), so they haven't lost any phone customers due to VoIP.

      Yaz.

    • by tsotha (720379) on Friday March 10, 2006 @04:56AM (#14889266)
      Vonage is using telco infrastructure to undercut a major telco profit center, without paying a them a dime for the privelege.

      No. The customer is using telco infrastructure, which he pays for monthly in the form of a service fee to his ISP, to undercut the absurdly high rates telcos charge for POTS.

      Vonage is just an application. If Vonage has to pay the "using my pipes" fee, and Google has to pay the "using my pipes" fee, what the hell am I paying every month to my ISP?

    • Why?

      I pay a flat rate, for an advertised service, from TimeWarner - RoadRunner (I understand the argument is for a different provider)...

      I pay a flat rate, for an advertised servicer, from Vonage.

      In all likleyhood, TimeWarner could be deprioritizing packets destined for Vonage, and offering me a fee-based system to allow these packets to make it where they are destined with normal priority. This is called extortion.

      I have worked with Vonage in beta & support in the past to determine wether or not RR wa
    • Vonage is using telco infrastructure to undercut a major telco profit center, without paying a them a dime for the privelege.

      Wow, you mean Vonage gets free access to the Internet????? Amazing!

      Look - the telco's ARE getting paid, and way more than a "dime". I'm paying $50 a month on my end to use the infrastructure, and God only knows how much Vonage is paying to use the infrastructure.

      The telcos ARE getting paid.

      Steve
  • Research the product (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GuruHal (229087) on Friday March 10, 2006 @01:29AM (#14888767)
    I think we need to examine Shaw vs Vonage telephony for a minute. ***Disclaimer: After comparing the two services side-by-side, I'm a Shaw Phone customer.

          Vonage is VoIP running over standard ethernet on the Internet. It's voice traffic competes with every other data packet on the Internet, no matter if it's on Shaw's network, or Telus' network, or the Internet in general. Vonage is portable and available on any high speed network.

          Shaw Phone may technically be VoIP, but it runs on seperate hardware (an independant modem with no active data connections), on a seperate channel allocation than Internet (a managed voice network) and doesn't have to compete with Internet traffic. It's routed to the PSTN without touching the Internet so the voice packets don't require QoS. Shaw's telephony is NOT portable, its for home use only.

          This is like comparing apples to oranges. I've tried Vonage and although it worked okay, at times the packet loss was unbearable. I don't care what the excuse is (overloaded nodes, Internet traffic spikes, etc), when I use the phone I just want it to work. Period. I also think that 911 is pretty much a required service and there are some significant differences between Shaw and Vonage in that respect, but thats a different debate. Shaw Phone isn't perfect, but its certainly better than Vonage in my experience.

          The QoS service definitely isn't a tax because its not mandatory and Vonage works as advertised without it. Besides all that, Shaw can only offer QoS on their own network. Once the traffic leaves their network QoS is meaningless. Would I subscribe to QoS? Probably not, but then again I'm not using Vonage.

    And to the earlier poster who suggested that Shaw should reduce the number of customer spambots on their networks to reduce traffic overhead - I couldn't agree more. Turn that bandwidth shaping towards the spam relays and cut their service until they correct their problems. They'd probably gain a significant amount of usable bandwidth for the effort.
  • How dare they charge me $10 if I want QoS on my line on the other hand they own the the lines and are in the business of making money. If the $10 goes to impoving the network then I guess I'd pay it. Although I'm already paying $74 per month for my SOHO Xtreme I so at $84 its a bit hard to swollow. ATM I'm using Dolphintel for my voip and so far seems ok on SHAW but cant say how its like on regural SHAW accounts.
  • by SleepyHappyDoc (813919) on Friday March 10, 2006 @01:45AM (#14888807)
    If they'll let me pay $10 a month to prioritize VoIP, can I pay them $10 to prioritize my bittorrent packets? Or can I use the VoIP prioritization to sidestep their traffic shaping.

    Since Christmas, torrent traffic has been badly shaped on Shaw...when it takes 72 hours to download the just-released Gentoo install CD from their tracker, you know something's wrong. It's not like it wasn't well-seeded....
    • If they'll let me pay $10 a month to prioritize VoIP, can I pay them $10 to prioritize my bittorrent packets?

      I don't know - you might ask them, but even if they say "yes", it would be really, really stupid to do it.

      QoS is (basically) designed to guarantee the packets arrive within a certain timeframe. It's goal is to make interactive traffic, well, interactive, regardless of congestion on the link. As bittorrent isn't interactive, there is no benefit whatsoever to giving it a higher priority.

      Or can I use
  • "Shaw's QofS Service has the potential........"

    I am not really a grammar Nazi, nor am i Trolling. Really. But "QofS Service" would be expandeed to become "Quality of Service Service", and I cant really completely RTFA while laughing remembering about the RAS Syndrome [answers.com]
  • shaw,qos (Score:5, Informative)

    by mikers (137971) on Friday March 10, 2006 @02:17AM (#14888896)
    I have Shaw internet, I also have subscribed to their QOS enhancement (as per this discussion), and I use wholesale VOIP (rather than Vonage). I'm actually thinking of cancelling the QOS for technical rather than ideological (*emotional* -- as per this story) reasons.

    The QOS enhancement was hidden away inside of the Shaw website, and most of the customer service people I talked to had no clue what it was. This was about 4 months ago when I first signed up for it. I finally did find someone who knew what it was. They said:
    - It enhanced service for internet. They didn't really say how much or what I would notice
    - Shaw's internet phone uses a separate network or channel, and does not use their regular internet channels
    - The QOS enhancement is only applicable to their internet service, and does not put your VOIP traffic over their separate network for Shaw internet phone.
    - Cable modems on shaw (at least mine) support DOCSIS 2.0, and apparently (I'm not an expert) it has QOS capability along with the rest of their network outlay.

    QOS
    - This QOS thing is technically possible from the Shaw end, but the question of performance is a large one
    - I haven't really noticed either a degredation or improvement in voip... But then I haven't been monitoring carefully
    - I think the time when I need it most -- when Shaw's network is otherwise saturated -- is when it will pay, but I suspect those times are rare.

    The two big problems I see:
    - The biggest problem I can see is that the QOS enhancement is only valid over Shaw's network, and if your voip provider doesn't peer directly with shaw, your voip packets will be at some other carrier's mercy once they leave shaw
    - The second biggest problem is ping times. Some of my VOIP providers are 13 hops from where I am (and three network peering points away), and even with QOS there is no way to keep round trip delay to less than 100 milliseconds -- at which point the lag is noticable and gets irritating. No amount of QOS from shaw will fix the number of hops.

    Conclusion
    The lesson to learn is that QOS is useful if you are on a saturated part of the shaw network, you call during busy times of the day AND (this is important) your voip provider is a short number of hops from you AND ON THE SHAW NETWORK!

    Otherwise save your money. Oh yeah, and write letters to the CRTC to get them to stop Shaw, Bell and Telus from doing this two tier internet garbage!

  • Reponse from Shaw (Score:4, Informative)

    by edsouza (960198) on Friday March 10, 2006 @03:00AM (#14889014)
    From their news release section:
        http://www.shaw.ca/NR/rdonlyres/A19222AC-750B-42CC -AC99-136A5C2EA420/0/VonageMar8.pdf [www.shaw.ca]

    From my interpretation, if you want better QoS, you pay the $10/month - so you get a less likely chance that your packets won't get dropped on network saturation.

    Also they like to sell there own phone service saying it eventually connects to a phone line so it doesn't go over the internet but only there private manage IP network.
    • by Yaztromo (655250)

      I think this part is pretty funny:

      Contrary to Vonage's claim, Shaw does not offer an Internet telephony service in direct competition with Vonage or any other Internet phone provider. Shaw's Digital Phone service is a carrier-grade, primary line, local and long distance residential telephone service that uses a managed IP network. Shaw Digital phone calls travel directly from Shaw's secure private network to the tried-and-true public telephone system. They do not travel over the Internet. The result i

  • Shaw also has a tendency towards blocking port 5051 on their network... *especially* if you buy their QoS service. They're trying to stamp out other people's VOIP on their network so that their shitty (and proprietary) offering can actually compete.

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