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VoIP Security FUD

I'm continually amazed by the amount of FUD being spread with regard to VoIP security threats. People...the sky is not falling. VoIP isn't e-mail. It isn't implemented like e-mail, it won't be implemented like e-mail (maybe "it shouldn't be implemented like e-mail" is a more appropriate statement). Following best security practices will ensure at least a level of security equivalent to current TDM systems. Best FUD I've heard this week: VoIP is insecure because you can simply put a bridge on an ethernet line and capture a stream. Hey, has anyone ever heard of alligator clips? more

VoIP's Threadbare New Clothes

Om has burnt the midnight oil analyzing Vonage's S-1 filing, coming to the conclusion that, while churn may not be as ugly as people thought, it's still cause for concern, and apparently intensifying. His point at the end about definitions is particularly good, as excluding cancellations in the first 30-days is undoubtedly flattering to the numbers. The net present value of Vonage's lifetime customer revenues is an issue which VoIP-watchers have long speculated about with trepidation -- what if marketing spending, churn, and price competition combined to form a toxic soup which fatally poisoned the economic proposition for access-independent VoIP? more

U.S. VoIP and Broadband Policy: Today's Debate is Off the Mark!

Despite rather rapid growth in broadband access, the U.S. is falling further and further behind other countries -- we're now ranked #16 in the world. What's slowing the U.S. down? Two threads dominate U.S. broadband policy debate today. The first focuses on traditional telecom regulation -- reciprocal compensation, universal service, e911, and CALEA (wiretap capabilities). The second focuses on "Internet freedoms," i.e., guarantees that your broadband access provider won't block or inhibit specific applications like VoIP. more

Internet Governance: An Antispam Perspective

All those Internet Governance pundits who track ICANN the way paparazzi track Paris Hilton are barking up the wrong tree. They've mistaken the Department of Street Signs for the whole of the state. The real action involves words like rbldnsd, content filtering, and webs of trust. Welcome to the Internet! What's on the menu today? Spam, with some phish on the side! We've got email spam, Usenet spam, IRC spam, IM spam, Jabber spam, Web spam, blogs spam, and spam splogs. And next week we'll have some brand new VoIP spam for you. Now that we're a few years into the Cambrian explosion of messaging protocols, I'd like to present a few observations around a theme and offer some suggestions. more

Questioning "Net Neutrality"

I'm kinda foxed by the some of the discussion going on about "Net Neutrality". The internet was designed from the outset not to be content neutral. Even before there was an IP protocol there were precedence flags in the NCP packet headers. And the IP (the Internet Protocol) has always had 8 bits that are there for the sole purpose of marking the precedence and type-of-service of each packet. It has been well known since the 1970's that certain classes of traffic -- particularly voice (and yes, there was voice on the internet even during the 1970's) -- need special handling... more

Network Neutrality

In January of this year, a frontpage article on WSJ quoted Verizon Chief Executive Ivan Seidenberg "We have to make sure they (Google) don't sit on our network and chew up our capacity". Both AT&T and Bellsouth also made similar statements in the same article. A few days ago, Verizon repeat their call to "End Google's Free Lunch": "A Verizon Communications Inc. executive yesterday accused Google Inc. of freeloading for gaining access to people's homes using a network of lines and cables the phone company spent billions of dollars to build." ...it is no surprise that Network Neutrality, a concept where broadband providers are not to discriminate rivals when they charge tolls or prioritize traffic, is now on the agenda of the US Congress. more

Disappearing Telephony

I'm just stepping back a minute to think about what Emerging Telephony actually is. You might have seen my earlier musings on the different philosophical underpinnings of "Western" telephony and "Eastern" thought. In an oversimplified nutshell, the Western approach puts the individual in the centre of the universe. The Eastern idea is to put the group in the middle. more

IPv6: Extinction, Evolution or Revolution?

For some years now the general uptake of IPv6 has appeared to be "just around the corner". Yet the Internet industry has so far failed to pick up and run with this message, and it continues to be strongly reluctant to make any substantial widespread commitment to deploy IPv6. Some carriers are now making some initial moves in terms of migrating their internet infrastructure over to a dual protocol network, but for many others it's a case of still watching and waiting for what they think is the optimum time to make a move. So when should we be deploying IPv6 services? At what point will the business case for IPv6 have a positive bottom line? It's a tough question to answer, and while advice of "sometime, probably sooner than later" is certainly not wrong, it's also entirely unhelpful as well! more

The Search for Net Neutrality

My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, freely available version) examines the growing trend toward a two-tiered Internet, which upends the longstanding principle of network neutrality under which ISPs treat all data equally. I argue that the network neutrality principle has served ISPs, Internet companies, and Internet users well. It has enabled ISPs to plausibly argue that they function much like common carriers and that they should therefore be exempt from liability for the content that passes through their systems. ...Notwithstanding its benefits, in recent months ISPs have begun to chip away at the principle. more

Would the Real Network Neutrality Please Stand Up?

I'm sure this is something that's been raked over before, but I don't see a common understanding of what 'Net Neutrality' actually is. Despite many of the Internetorati demanding it by law. There appear to be several different camps, which you could paint as "bottom of IP", "middle" and "top". The bottomistas would see enforced Internet Protocol itself as a premature optimisation and violation of the end-to-end principle. Unhappy that you only get IPv4 or IPv6? Still grumpy that you only have IPv4 and not even IPv6? Really miserable that your VoIP packets are staggering under the poisonous load of IPv6 headers? You're a bottomista. more