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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 The Master Control P (655590) <ejkeever&nerdshack,com> on Thursday March 09, 2006 @11:51PM (#14888445)
    Sure... just read a previous article [slashdot.org], where hundreds of people pontificate on how bad a 2-tier 'Net is.

    In short: It breaks the end-to-end quality of the Internet, and betrays the very concept of the Internet. It's greedy telcos trying to double-dip on website owners: Owners already paid for bandwidth, and I already paid for DSL: These telcos want them to pay again for the continued non-suckage of their connection.
  • 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 much for a block of numbers.

    Boo fuckin' hoo. One (306) area code for an entire province, and SaskTel has the audacity to attempt to charge the same rate as a city instead of the rural rate. What a bunch of bastards

    > 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?

    See above. And they can't even afford to do it themselves. http://www.webcall.ca/ [webcall.ca] is SaskTels residential VoIP service (Navigata is a wholly owned subsidiary or SaskTel), and they don't offer 306.
  • by Penguinoflight (517245) on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:39AM (#14888621) Homepage Journal
    Most of us are assuming that providers who charge a extra "VoIP fee" are just looking for more money. This idea is upheld, because users on all the reported ISPs who are charging the fee report problems with voip service when not paying the "protection money".

    I think another question comes to the service though. Should a internet provider really be giving priority to conversations? Normally if you want better service (for gaming as an example), you get the best package that your ISP will sell you. Normally this type of upgrade doesn't give you better priority on the network, it just gives you a wider bandwidth. I think it begs the question: why should other users suffer a lower priority connection to help other internet users who are on VoIP?
  • by mindstrm (20013) on Friday March 10, 2006 @01:18AM (#14888732)
    I think you are misunderstanding QoS and how it works.

    VOIP does not take up significant bandwidth; usuallly only 8kbps per call (yes, .008 mbps)
    The main factor affecting VIOP quality is latency... high latency, or worse, fluctuating latency realy screws things up.

    With QoS, you can still use your full 6mbps connection, it's just that the few voip packets you send out get priority, so the call sounds good.

    Similarly, if I set up my network so that even when the internet connection is pegged, my SSH sessions get priority, I can leave my connection slammed with downloads, and still comfortably work on remote terminal sessions as if the pipe is clean.

    Simply buying a bigger pipe to increase latency for a small fraction of your packets is like killing a mosquito with a cannon, it's wasteful and clumsy.

    A game of Counterstrike takes a heck of a lot more bandwidth than a VOIP call.

    An internet provider is an independent network that wants to provide you with transit services between your network and other people's networks; tehy should be free to offer you any package they want, as long as they are straightforward about it.

  • by morethanapapercert (749527) on Friday March 10, 2006 @01:25AM (#14888754)
    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 areas like Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and so on. (of course, this being Canada, cover those three cities and throw in Montreal and we're talking about over 80% of the population) Given that all Ont. phone numbers essentially belong to Bell until sold/leased to someone and that Bell is intensely regulated, it may not simply be a matter of being willing to pay what Bell wants for those numbers. I'm sure there are regulations to follow, commitees to placate and "public" hearings to be held before a block of numbers can be transferred. (I put public in quotes because while the process may be open to the public, held in some bland hearing room in City Hall, but when was the last time anyone you know went to one?)

    why have I had the same anti-script test word four times in a row?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 10, 2006 @01:25AM (#14888755)
    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 high-speed internet price with the option of the 'extreme' addon if they opt for a faster connection.. this is just like a dial-up or high-speed connection, if you want it faster, you pay. the old terayon backend does not support docsis, therefore is less reliable for voip, but for most will still function without issue.
  • 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).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 10, 2006 @01:42AM (#14888798)
    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 better quality than Vonage can over hope to accomplish because... they own the infrastructure!

    In the backend, it's Bell, and here it becomes VoIP/ATM ... but that's hardly unusual, most major carriers do that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 10, 2006 @02:04AM (#14888859)
    try uTorrent (micro-torrent), and make sure you enable encryption.
    with the bittorrent packets encrypted it will not be as easy for your ISP to apply their traffic shaping analysis to your traffic.
    after that, change the preferred port to something different, like 1720 (normally reserved for vpns) instead of 6881 (the generally accepted default for torrent traffic).
  • by Yaztromo (655250) <yaztromo.mac@com> on Friday March 10, 2006 @02:08AM (#14888869) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Friday March 10, 2006 @04:23AM (#14889204)
    try uTorrent (micro-torrent), and make sure you enable encryption.

    uTorrent is Windows-only and proprietary. The parent referred to a Gentoo install CD. Most likely he's on a Linux box, and since it's Gentoo you need the source code.

    For torrent encryption, the only option on Linux is Azureus. Although, KTorrent is also in the process of implementing encryption [kde.org].
  • Re:I *hate* Vonage (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:00AM (#14889278)
    It's either something in your router, or specific Vonage interface. I carry my PAP2 with me across the country and into Mexico where it typically works perfectly. The voice might get choppy if I'm doing a significant download/upload while trying to also use the phone, but that can be solved by my own' router's QOS settings. VoIP is no more or less a problem than large file transfers/streaming, etc.

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