Back in late September at the VON conference, I encountered a company that claimed it was the first to block Skype. Now IEEE Spectrum is reporting that another company has also mastered this skill. Mountain View, CA based Narus, Inc. reportedly is delivering VoIP (and Skype) blocking technology to a number of overseas broadband providers. In a press release titled "Narus Empowers Carriers to Asess VoIP Traffic and Realize Revenue" (a nice way to say, block) the company claims:
One carrier determined that over 15 percent of calls bypassed their traditional network, causing a significant impact on revenue. Using Narus, this carrier recovered its losses by mitigating the traffic and passing information to the billing system to bill subscribers for the network usage.Personally I find a number of things troubling about this response to VoIP by traditional carriers. Not the least of which is the assumption that every VoIP call would have been a traditional PSTN call. But significantly more worrisome than the Narus technology is the suggestion that carriers (even ones here in the U.S.) will intentionally degrade the quality of VoIP calls. In the IEEE Spectrum article, A Narus VP is reported as having said:
"But there's nothing that keeps a carrier in the United States from introducing jitter, so the quality of the conversation isn't good," Thomas says. "So the user will either pay for the carrier's voice-over-Internet application, which brings revenue to the carrier, or pay the carrier for a premium service that allows Skype use to continue. You can deteriorate the service, introduce latency [audible delays in hearing the other end of the line], and also offer a premium to improve it."I hope that this is as intolerable to the FCC as it is to me. Nothing that keeps a carrier from intentionally degrading the quality of a service that competes with its own? If this is correct, we need to change the law. And soon.