A rather interesting discussion has been taking place in a couple of the WISP/ISP professional forums I belong to. The issue has been brought to a head because of the charges recently leveled by Vonage claiming that their service is being blocked. Alternately there is also discussion about their service being prioritized last in the queue making it unusable for all intensive purposes.

I am puzzled by some of the comments that have surfaced, many along the lines of, “It’s my network and nobody should be able to tell me how to run it or what services I need to allow.”

This amuses me as I have to wonder if there is any minimum requirement for being an ISP. Would it be allowable for me to block all traffic that I felt isn’t suitable for my network like, web surfing, email, P2P, download videos, streaming video, on-line gaming, etc? Why not? All of these services (except email) require me to use a measurable amount of bandwidth.

There is also the idea that “nobody” has the right to tell us what to do. Last I checked, the FCC has every right to tell us what to do as this is exactly what they are their for – to protect the American public from inadequate communications infrastructure. I would have to think that if the FCC didn’t feel as though an ISP was providing true “Internet service” they would have a lot of options.

We seem to forget that we WISPs operate by the good grace of the FCC and should they deem we are not operating in the public’s best interest they can pull the plug on us any time they decide to.

It is readily apparent that the FCC is solidly behind VoIP. Many of their recent decisions and public speeches have made that clear. What kind of businessperson would risk the angst of the FCC blocking a service that the FCC has championed? What sense would it make to force the FCC to take measures ensuring that the American public will get the necessary access to use a service that they have paid for?

This leads to another set of questions. Why would a business knowingly make it impossible for one of their customers to use a service that the customer wanted enough to take some of their hard earned money and pay for it? This defies every law of business known to man.

One thing for certain, when the service doesn’t work the customer will call the tech support number at the VoIP company and be told that they need to switch Internet Service Providers. When the customer leaves their current ISP and signs up with the competition finding that the service works beautifully, what are they going to think about their previous ISP? What will happen to that initial ISP’s reputation when word gets out that you need to switch from Company A to Company B because Company A’s network can’t provide adequate service to use VoIP?

The same argument could be presented that VoIP is similar to P2P but even that comparison begs to ask why any business would deny a customer any service they might want to avail themselves of. To be successful we need to provide the customer with the very best service available. This is not something that is limited to answering the telephone or dealing with hardware issues, this means that the customer never experiences anything that would disappoint them.

To do anything less is to have already made the decision you are leaving the business but you don’t know exactly what day that will be.

In this world, the only thing we have to worry about is our incompetence being leveraged by the competition.

Try not to forget that!

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