Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Vonage Files Regulatory Complaint Over QoS Premium 160

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.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Vonage Files Regulatory Complaint Over QoS Premium

Comments Filter:
  • Not so fast (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 10, 2006 @12:23AM (#14888565)
    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 the customer's home LAN, home cabling, home equipment, home router, etc.

    Troubleshooting home VoIP with non-technical users is a bitch. I won't even begin to elaborate on the horror stories, other than to say they don't have a clue and end up taking you 30-45 minutes to figure out they've got silver satin, brother-in-law wired "straight-thru cable" (non-TIA spec), wifi AP sitting on top of the microwave oven (solved that one yesterday - "damn your Internet! My phone calls quit working every time my wife heats up her coffee - what kinda network you losers run?!!"). I can't tell you how frustrating it is to deal with this, when I've put myself thru Cisco VoIP classes and run a clean, rock solid Asterisk PBX 60 miles away from my home to carry big city dial-tone to my rural BFE home.

    Yet in every case, Vonage pushed these people off and blamed something else. They refused to do basic troubleshooting, and made it the ISP's problem. They accuse us of owning the problem, and when the customer calls, they have an "expert" claiming we're at fault. So we bear the expense and end up doing Vonage customer support with no compensation for a level two+ tech's time, at a minimum internal rate of $75/hour and at least a half hour wasted.

    All of that for $10 a month? That's a steal. Quit complaining and pay the fee, or expect that the next time you call us, we'll tell you to call that exceptional Vonage tech support back and bother them.

    Vonage's network is running on other company's support expertise right now, intentional or not. Don't expect this to last. We added a step in the expert system in February to actually solve the problem and sell the customer into a Vonage competitor's platform where we get a small $25 commission. The result is a happy customer with working VoIP, working support and partial compensation for our effort. Vonage won't last if other providers mitigate their Vonage tech support incompetence risk this way.
  • 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.
  • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @01:08AM (#14888708)
    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 with everyone else at the whim of the standard tcp/ip stack, with no protocol specific QoS controls.
    2) The option of paying for different basic QoS types.
              - latency QoS for voip.
              - A connection that offers no bandwidth restrictions, but no latency guarantees. You can use as much as you want, as long as it's available.
              - A connection of medium speed, but with a guaranteed overall latency of no more than 150ms for any traffic.

    And so on... why not? There is no problem in this.

    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.

  • 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.
  • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @01:24AM (#14888752)
    Another point.

    The only reason to get a faster connection is because you are already using all the bandwidth. Simple QoS on your home router can deal with prioritizing your own traffic, but only as far as your router. This works great, and lets you download like mad and still use voip or play counterstrike effectively.. . provided your isp's network is not saturated.

    Shaw operates a cable network; segments get saturated easily, especially upstream. All they are offering you is the same QoS you do yourself at home, but across their entire network. They are not suggesting reducing everone elses bandwidth.

    One could guess that if this isn't implemented right, people could sign up for VOIP QoS and then route all their protocols masqueraded as VOIP, hogging the network, but generally when you set latency guarnatess, you do it for only a certain amount of bandwidth... say 24kbps low latency queue, and the rest queued normally. (so up to 24kbps of matching traffic gets priority, the rest goes normally)
  • by Fatal67 ( 244371 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @03:28AM (#14889079)
    Controlling the QOS on your ISP network is a hell of a lot better than What vonage currently offers. No control at all. But thats what happens when you don't own the infrastructure. the infrastructure provider saw a chance to make your service better and make money off of it. And by god, who is Vonage to tell me what i can and what i can't classify packets on my network as?

    See, cable companies can't compete with vonage on price. They actually pay for their infrastructure. What they can do is make Vonage better. For a price. And vonage is bitching because.. why? oh yeah.. the cable companies would be making money off of vonages software platform.. ironic isnt it?
  • by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @04:00AM (#14889158) Homepage Journal

    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 is a more reliable and higher quality phone service.

    Shaw and Vonage aren't in direct competition? How many phone service providers does the average home need? In my experience, if you exclude cellular service, most residential homes have a total of ONE phone service provider.

    Clue to Shaw: you both sell a telephone service, and are thus in direct competition. Later in the same paragraph, Shaw even seems to indirectly acknowledge this fact, by saying that they provide "a more reliable and higher quality phone service". Come on Shaw -- you can't offer the same service as another company, claim you aren't in competition with them, and then claim that you're solution is better than their is.

    As both a Shaw and Vonage customer, I'm currently sitting on the fence. I refuse to pay the extra $10 a month fee to Shaw, but have no problem with them offering an extra service so long as they aren't taking steps to degrade the service I've already paid for. However, this press release is just dumb, and makes Shaw look desparate. Whomever penned this press release should be re-assigned to something more suiting their lack of ability in logic and coherent thought.


  • 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?

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito