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Communications Your Rights Online

AT&T Dumps VOIP Customers 295

Posted by kdawson
from the don't-let-the-door-hit-you dept.
Proudrooster writes "In the past two weeks AT&T has sent out disconnect letters to VOIP customers in big rude red letters, stating that VOIP service will be suspended in 30 days and permanently disconnected in 60 days. They cited E911 service as the reason. (It is peculiar that AT&T is unable overcome an E911 technical hurdle, since SBC/AT&T is also the local landline company in many areas where VOIP cancellation notices are being received.) Many AT&T VOIP customers have found that they are unable to transfer their phone numbers to a new provider. Further, AT&T is unwilling to set up a forwarding message directing callers to a new phone number for those who are unable to transfer their old numbers. In effect, AT&T has told many long-term VOIP subscribers: 'We are turning off your phone in 30 days, goodbye.'"
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AT&T Dumps VOIP Customers

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  • by Farrside (78711) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @02:02AM (#19008359)
    I find it entirely appropriate, if not prescient.
    • quote (Score:4, Funny)

      by alexandreracine (859693) <alexandreracine@gmail.com> on Sunday May 06, 2007 @02:16AM (#19008409) Homepage Journal
      Governor Sio Bibble: A communications disruption could mean only one thing: invasion.
    • Long (like anti-trust old AT&T breakup) time Southern Bell / Bell South customer here. This is precisely the reason why I'm sad to see BellSouth leave and the new AT&T arrive. More CC (corporately correct) behavior than ever and fewer customer services. Everyone can look forward to more crap and less service as the new AT&T tightens its grip.
      • >>Everyone can look forward to more crap and less service as the new AT&T tightens its grip.
        Precisely! And higher prices since the need to innovate and compete is now removed. The "new" AT&T is shaping up to be darned similar in topography and attitude to old Ma Bell.

        Is anyone really surprised here? "The New AT&T" was just formed from the merger of a number of competitors -- several companies which had to fight against one another and be creative and attractive to win customers realized th
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lordkuri (514498)
      E911 is a convenient excuse, nothing more. They're killing it because they know Verizon will come after them as soon as they're done beating Vonage into a bloody pulp. AT&T has bigger pockets, and Verizon knows they'll settle so they're nipping it in the bud while they have the chance.
      • by billstewart (78916) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @04:27PM (#19013311) Journal
        The 911 system, especially E911, is deeply tied into the technical and financial structure of the old monopoly telco / government bureaucracy system, and breaks badly if you try to change it, and the FCC and some state regulations forcing new-technology carriers like VOIP to work with it forces all the brokenness and cost onto the carriers.


        The existing system has an interface from the telcos to the emergency operator system that has a large number of assumptions about what the phone network looks like, as well as telco-style interface technology, and would require major redesign to accommodate different technologies - but the emergency operator systems don't have a funding source that lets them do that, so the regulators are making the carriers interface to them like old telcos, even if they really really aren't. Here are some of the kinds of assumptions that need to be worked with:

        • A phone sits in one place in a building.
        • The building sits in one place.
        • The place where the building sits has one police station, one fire company, and one or more ambulance companies that serve it.
        • There's a wire from the telco to the building.
        • The caller wants the police/fire/ambulance to show up at the building.
        • There's a phone number associated with the wire (not the phone.)
        • There's a specific telco that supports that phone number, and the telco has records about the building and phone. (Number portability regulations did entertaining things to that one...)
        • If the phone's supported by a PBX, and the phone has an individual number usable for outgoing calls, there are telco records that indicate which floor the phone's on, but otherwise the emergency vehicle should show up at the front door. (Even *that* had a lot of complexity to it.)
        • If you move the phone, at least to a different floor, or change the phone number, or move the phone number to a different building, you'll let the telco know.
        • The regulations can be different for wireline telcos, because they know where the real wires are, than for non-wireline telco-like carriers (like Vonage, and the pre-merger long-distance AT&T.)
        • Hey, no they can't! 911 has to work everywhere! - regardless of any infrastructure differences.
        It's a really ugly mess (and CALEA makes it far worse for anybody it applies to.) There are some service providers who can handle the interface equipment parts of PSAP connectivity, but you still need to find a way to make your databases have *some* resemblence to the information the regulators need - even if it inherently *doesn't* work that way.


        For cell phones, at the time the Feds wanted to make 911 work, it was obvious that the wireline assumptions just wouldn't work, because your cellphone is usually not at the place your phone bill or phone number live, and even aside from the FBI wiretap-freaks wanting to radically expand their surveillance capabilities, it's a hard problem if you want accurate location information - and the PSAP structure isn't usually very good at dealing with non-street-addressed location information. I've got a fairly recent GSM-based phone, but the last time or two that I've tried to report car accidents in San Francisco, the 911 operators have connected me to the California Highway Patrol rather than the local police, because the CHP seems to know how to deal with moving callers, while the PSAP system would otherwise need to guess whether I was inside the SF city limits, or in Daly City or Brisbane, based on my description of what freeway signs I was near, and assign the call to the correct police department.

        The new regulations on VOIP carriers, as far as I can tell, seem to assume that any carrier who's connecting to the wireline public telephone system and isn't a known cellphone carrier can be treated as a wireline carrier even if that's not what their system does. It's a big problem.

  • by k1980pc (942645)
    but I cannot find instances of any rude mails. Looks like somebody has tried to make it more sensational in the summary.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    We don't care, we're the phone company.
    • by CRC'99 (96526) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @02:08AM (#19008375) Homepage
      From Saturday Night Live...

      Ernestine: We handle eighty-four billion calls a year. Serving everyone from presidents and kings to the scum of the earth. We realize that every so often you can't get an operator, for no apparent reason your phone goes out of order, or perhaps you get charged for a call you didn't make.

      We don't care.

      Watch this.. [ she hits buttons maniacally ] ..just lost Peoria.

      You see, this phone system consists of a multibillion-dollar matrix of space age technology that is so sophisticated, even we can't handle it. But that's your problem, isn't it? Next time you complain about your phone service, why don't you try using two Dixie cups with a string?

      We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company.
  • Provide some kind of index, checked against credit card records, only available to emergency services?
    Doesn't this seem logical and easy? So much of this stuff is handled online, eventually sure we'll all be using wireless + Voip, and then we'll need the router to provide a location, but still this all seems really really easy. Something people would be willing to fill out (Especially as it's so easy to secure [One time use based on 911 contact and then changed, change can be written back to the caller]).
    • by WarlockD (623872)
      Wireless phones are set up that when you call 911, the tower knows what 911 local provider to use.

      There isn't an easy "automatic" way to do that in VOIP, but 911 is just a forwarding number anyway. Why you just give them (At&t) your home address, they find the proper police dispatcher number for your area and just link it to your account? Is it THAT hard?

      I don't care either way. I used to use VOIP, but then I found I juse my cell phone more anyway.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by rec9140 (732463)
        911 is more than just a fowarding number on the POTS side of things.

        When you dial 911 or *something on your cell phone that is simply a forwarded number to a regular POTS line at the PSAP.

        If and ONLY IF your carrier and the local PSAP are setup for wireless 911 does a 911 call get routed similar to a regular 911 call which then provides info like the cell site and an ESTIMATED ADDRESS its not exact and this level of cellular 911 is available to a very small area.

        911 on POTS is not a forwarded number its ro
    • by Gordonjcp (186804)
      Why would you even bother? If you're on a VoIP phone, then presumably you've got a fairly good idea where you are. I can see it being a problem for mobile phones, but they just pass the details of the nearest cell tower. In cities, this can locate you to within a couple of hundred meters. If you're using a wired VoIP phone, try and figure out what building you're in. It shouldn't be hard. If you're using a wireless VoIP phone, presumably you're still near a building you're at least a little familiar w
      • Re:Can't We (Score:4, Insightful)

        by teh kurisu (701097) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @05:49AM (#19009137) Homepage

        The problem is your ability to communicate this information over the phone. If you're experiencing shortness of breath while phoning for an ambulance, your location is the kind of thing you would want the operator to be able to find automatically.

    • Or just make GPSes far more common and the problem is solved too.

      (e.g. I'd like one but they are too pricey)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by arivanov (12034)
      Why? This is a service provided by a telco for its own customers across its own infrastructure:

      They know your IP. If it is a DSL they can check it all the way to your local tail and have the same level of reliably identifying an emergency caller as for a normal phone call. All of this is in systems somewhere on the way. In addition to that it has to be checked only once - when the phone signs onto the system for service so the resource used is not that great. Same for cable - the MAC of your cable modem a

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        The answer is simple.

        They want to charge you the higher rates for a land line and long distance service.

  • Odd. (Score:5, Funny)

    by gklinger (571901) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @02:11AM (#19008391)
    AT&T should know better than anyone that breaking up is hard to do. Talk about a short institutional memory.
  • by TheReaperD (937405) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @02:25AM (#19008449)

    All the monopolistic tendencies that you love and none of that silly customer service stuff...

  • Not Surprised (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Flavius Iulianus (1093015) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @02:42AM (#19008517)
    Over the past 10 years, I've had utterly horrible service with anything with the AT&T letters in it. Cable, cell and long distance. I spent 2 months fighting with their cable people over service problems, had horrible customer service in 2 years of AT&T wireless and, the kicker, had the joy of learning in the midst of a family crisis while out of the country that they cancelled my calling card mysteriously and then had the gall to claim that I NEVER HAD ONE! Even though I was (and still am right now) looking at the card they sent me in 1999. So, if I'm surprised it's that they even bothered to tell people they were doing this. I would've expected them to cut service off with no warning and continue to bill people and refuse to stop billing or to refund for charges rendered after service was cut off. Or, maybe that's coming?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by TheGeneration (228855)
      Over the past 10 years, I've had utterly horrible service with anything with the AT&T letters in it. Cable, cell and long distance.

      Amen brother. When I had AT&T cable I returned my cable box and disconnected the cable, but they didn't log the cable box as turned in for 6 months! They charged me and REFUSED to correct the charges! AT&T's cable operation (which they sold to Comcast here in Northern California) had such terrible customer service that when Comcast bought it they had to run a HUGE
  • by cdn-programmer (468978) <terr@terralogic. n e t> on Sunday May 06, 2007 @03:01AM (#19008559)
    The Phone Company DOES care. You damn right they care. They like to get paid.

    I refuse to wait on hold. Any phone company that offers an answering service for its customers certainly should be able to set one up where its customers can leave a message for them.

    My answering service for instance has not been working since last November. I actually think they shut it off deliberately because when I didn't like the over billing I contacted Investor Relations and their legal department. Seems the phone company cares about its Investors. Seems this is a direct line into the corporate management. Go figure eh?

    Note: The legal department has to deal with legal issues. If you want something done then write a letter or fax the legal department and threaten them. They are smart and they are high priced help. The Legal Department does not want to deal with this shit either.

    Well - seems the COMPANY PRESIDENT phoned me. Seems he didn't like me suggesting that after my bill has been PAID IN FULL BEFORE THE DUE DATE that its not ok for them to restrict my line and seems they also don't like me changing the amount owing and paying what I owe and telling them it is THEIR job to straighten their accounting out not mine and I'm not willing to wait on hold while they do it

    Seems they think it is My responsibility to take up with the bank the time it takes for the bank to transfer the money into their accounts. This is despite the fact that they admitted the money was in their account at the time they restricted the service and they simply didn't check. The bank was excellent. Note when the line is restricted someone will answer the phone. This person noted the bill had been paid in full. They left the line restricted for about 4 days. They restricted it the day the bill was due. I paid in advance.

    My Position: THE BANK IS YOUR AGENT, NOT MINE. You pay the bank for this service. Not me. If YOU have an issue with the bank then YOU take it up with the bank. Not Me! I told the guy to walk down the hall and ask his legal department.

    Next day the bill was corrected. Same day my answering service quit.

    Ok. I have quit paying their bill. When their accounting people call me I tell them: YUP. THE BILL IS NOT PAID! If you want it paid, get my answering service running and the bill will be paid in full within 1/2 hour. NO! I AM NOT WILLING TO WAIT ON HOLD. If YOU need someone to wait on hold while YOU do YOUR JOB then get YOUR COMPANY to hire someone to do it. I'm not willing to!

    Its at a stalemate. Its been there for 2 months. There are letters in the mail. These are legal threats. If they restrict my service I WILL file in court and I will serve them and I will ask for a court order to force them to reconnect the service. They will lose. They do not have a leg to stand on.

    See. The phone company does care? They care about their money. Rather than complain. Refuse to pay the bill until they deal with what they need to deal with. Its really simple actually!
    • by Doppler00 (534739)
      So um... why don't you just cancel your service and use someone else? I assume you don't have a choice for some reason. Did you try contacting the better business bureau or some similar organization?
    • by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @06:17AM (#19009225) Journal
      I love people who think they are in the right when they arn't and have power that they don't.

      You will be charged like it or not, they can and will get the money out of you for a service they are provided. Going "a part is missing" is NO EXCUSE for not paying the bill. If you keep it up they'll take you to court and win, then send a nice bayliff round to remove your goods if you still refuse to pay up.

      I suggest you ring up and act POLITELY to the staff and they will help you get your answering service back on. It's all good and well that you go in with your mouth running, but they are people NOT the company, if you appeal to their nature (make them feel you're greatful for their time and help) they are more than likely to help you rather than shrug you off as "that dick who shouted at me".

      Remember you're a fish in a barrel, they have all the power (oh yea you have a tiny amount of money, wooo you can buy a lollipop!), even the longest rung (the call centre) have the power over if you get results or not. So if you speak to them as human beings and use a little politeness they will use their little bit (read 'a lot') of power to help you get your service back.

      Goto a play like Customers_suck on Livejournal. A lot of it is "this complete back came in earlier, bitched like fuck so I acted politely and pushed her off" but there are also posts like "this nice guy came in, he was really polite and patient even though I was having a horrible day. I was exhausted but bent over backwards to help the poor chap". And maybe you'll see that your mouth and "OMG I'LL SUE YOU! DON'T HOLD ME!" infact make you the biggest bump in your little ego based road.

      Be nice, it does more than stops your mouth hitting you on the ass.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dosius (230542)
        When I subscribed to Time Warner Cable, several times I stated I wanted Digital+Variety tier.

        They hooked me up, they charged me for Digital tier (no Variety), and they installed Digital tier (no Variety).

        Didn't take me all that long to call customer service to bitch. I wasn't (at least intentionally) rude, just like "just thought I'd mention, I asked for Digital+Variety, you only gave me Digital (and only charged me for Digital)" - took it to be an honest mistake, and in a few minutes it was corrected. Fi
    • by Black-Man (198831)
      Sheesh... ever hear of ELECTRONIC BILL PAY? Christ... go to their web page. Your rant is childish.

      • Uhm, yer an idiot. He *HAD* paid his bill, and the phone company's bank didnt report it properly to them. I even suspect that he was using an electronic service, if their bank had to notify them, becuase if he had mailed a check the telco would have gotten it first before the bank, and not had to wait for the bank to tell them.

        On a tengential note, the only type of bill pay service I would or will ever use is the kine where *I* tell me bank who to pay, when, and how much. The ones where you happily give you
  • by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @03:01AM (#19008561) Journal

    Welcome to the new AT&T.

    Fuck you very much.

  • The Rape of Ma Bell (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mrshowtime (562809) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @03:03AM (#19008567)
    I highly recommend the reading of the "Rape of Ma Bell" written by two ex-AT&T engineers who were around during the halcyon days of Ma Bell. You can download it for free at: http://www.porticus.org/bell/rapeofmabell.htm [porticus.org] It is an extremely thorough book that makes a good point that perhaps the breakup of Ma Bell could have possibly been the worst thing ever done "for the greater good." In short AT&T was punished for being too successful. Instead of creating an environment that was condusive to competition via minor regulation, the FCC busted up a very efficient organization in the attempt a competitive environment for the consumer, but really was just punishing AT&T for being too good at what it did. An argument could be made, "Hey if they did not break up the phone company, then we would still be paying through the nose for long distance and still renting phones!" Well, who's to say that competition would not have come along anyway, especially if "everyone" was so pist off with the old curmudgeon that AT&T was always portrayed as.
    • by Darundal (891860)
      Can you explain to me HOW competition could just come along when there is ONE company that has almost complete control over the market. And please, no Microsoft examples (they don't quite qualify as a monopoly yet, not until their is ACTUALLY no competition).
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by packeteer (566398)
        Name one industry where the price of entry is so high that a company can have a true monopoly. The phone company is about as close as it gets because they rely on laying down expensive lines over public land that needs clearance from different organizations.
    • by evilviper (135110)
      I generally agree that splitting Bell was pointless, and only the regulations really needed to be changed. That was obvious years ago, and it's brutally obvious now that they've been allowed to merge over the years into the current, non-competitive, duopoly. However...

      Well, who's to say that competition would not have come along anyway, especially if "everyone" was so pist off with the old curmudgeon that AT&T was always portrayed as.

      Umm... everyone with any sense.

      Bell wasn't a natural monopoly, it w

      • Bell wasn't a natural monopoly, it was a de jury monopoly
        Unanimous or split?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nanosquid (1074949)
      With Ma Bell in charge, we might have better telephone service, but the Internet as we know it wouldn't have happened.

      Much as I mourn the loss of Bell Labs, on the whole, the breakup of AT&T was necessary, and it was a good thing. Now, if we could only repeat that with Microsoft...
    • by Overzeetop (214511) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @07:09AM (#19009443) Journal
      You must not remember $0.25/min long distance in 1980 dollars, with no alternative carriers and no other options. And if yo udon't remember that, you certainly don't remmeber having to lease a phone - never owning it - in perpetuity becuase if you didn't lesae one you didn't get service.

      What they should have done - and what they should do with cable, power, and all public utility services which have installed infrastructure - is to require separation of physical plant from the actual data/power/other services. No company or conglomerate may own any part of both a plant and a service.
      • Exactly - they didnt go far enough. All they did was create new smaller geographic monopolies. AT&T didnt have the entire market anymore, but any individual phone customer still had no choice of phone company, and each of the RBOCs still had exclusive control over their respective copper plants. And now, the companies are even merging back together. If you've seen Terminator 2, you saw the terminator re-assemble after being frozen and blasted apart. Just like the T2, the pieces of Ma Bell are slowly com
      • by Locutus (9039)
        they leased the phone to customers because they supported/serviced the phones at no additional cost. It's a good way to collect fees for said support/service since this mechanism allows for scaling of the charges based on quantity of product requiring support/service. People are leasing DRVs from TV providers and not complaining... There is nothing wrong with that except if there were rules which prevented the customer from using their own phone instead of the AT&T one.

        "No company or conglomerate may ow
  • Can you hear me now? heh
  • My experience (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Evets (629327) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @03:26AM (#19008649) Homepage Journal
    I spent a good deal of my professional life in the telco arena before I opted to regain my sanity - both on the 911 side of the street and on the telco (in some cases both).

    911 isn't rocket science, but a lot of the "integration" points are much more manual than you might think. 911 is as serious as it gets - mistakes can cost lives. Many of the smaller players have just a single guy or a couple of guys that are tasked with ensuring that 911 gets their information and validating that they processed the information correctly. A history of mistakes on either side of the street would certainly mean that the relationship can no longer continue until things get worked out - and that means either the technical people start working together in a more friendly manner or that those people get replaced. Either way, that process can be time intensive as there are not a lot of people out there who have experience with the data models, the technology, and the business models.

    There is no way that this wasn't a looming problem that was discussed over and over in meetings, but knowing the telco environment it isn't unreasonable to assume that even though the problem was urgent it was not properly addressed. I've been in software design meetings where the subject of whether to use the phrase "Work In Progress", "In Progress", or "Working" took the better part of three days simply because strong personalities were involved that wouldn't let it go (and in the end executive involvement was necessary to move forward).

    This isn't a conspiracy to push people back to land lines. It's a case of management incompetence. A conspiracy would require a spirit of cooperation, and that simply does not exist at the management level or at the executive level within the telco vertical.
  • Apparently it's not supported in some areas. May be inconvenient, but having no way to get help in an emergency sucks way more.
    • e911 basically just puts up on the operaters screen your location info.

      without e911, you can call 911 fine, you just have to tell them where you are, just like it used to be.

      i don't particularly see why it is so critical.
      • You wouldn't until the day you call but are incapable of speaking. Or the 5 year old calls to tell them daddy won't wake up.

        E911 was created to overcome these problems and enhanced the system.

        The Slashdots who protest about how simple it all is should roll up their sleeves and dig into the issue. Money to be made, I'm sure.

  • by Stu101 (1031686) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @03:29AM (#19008665) Homepage
    Is it me or is quite obvious that they are not making large amounts of money with VOIP. It' a distuptive technology. It is challenging what were high profit revenue models. Therefore they are not making as much money. Therefore they dont like it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      It's also the same market as web designers were about 8 years ago or ISP's were about 10 years ago. Lots of small players think they can set up on a shoe string and a back-of-the-napkin business plan, get a bit of funding, and enter the market only to underprice more solid businesses and underprice themselves and the competitors right out of the market.

      If you're competent, sell them your services for infrastructure design, warn them of the technical foibles, but get paid in real cash, not stock.
  • They are allowed to become a monopoly once again.

    They are allowed to do anything they want.

    They are dropping VOIP customers because IPs can be spoofed and firewalls used.

    It was messing with the NSA's equipment in tracking people.
  • by TheGeneration (228855) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @04:09AM (#19008817) Journal
    It struck me as absolutely bizzare that SBC would want to be associated with the AT&T monopoly identity. Now I see that it goes even further than just a brand association, it is a monopoly mentality in customer management. As long as AT&T thinks that they can get away with treating their customers this way they will continue to treat them this way.
    • Before the AT&T and SBC merged, I had far more respect for (the modern, but pre-merger) AT&T than I did for SBC.
  • by cdn-programmer (468978) <terr@terralogic. n e t> on Sunday May 06, 2007 @04:26AM (#19008889)
    With systems like Asterix, the very core of the telecommunications business is threatened.

    For DECADES they supported a huge beauracracy through usary long distance rates. A telephone switch is really a computer. As the prices of computers and electonics went down, very little was returned to the customer by way of cost savings. One might note that the present generation of the telecommunications industry has inherited a substantial infrastructure from our grandparents. In many respects and especially when it comes to the "last mile", the industry has not upgraded from what was built prior to the 1960's.

    Next, advances in technology have increased the available bandwidth by orders of magnitude.

    This puts the telephone company in the position where they bill on T1 or E1 service for instance in the vicinity of $1000 per month for the same bandwidth that they wish to bill $29 bux a month for by way of data services. The problem is further complicated by the fact that for an individual subscriber they want o bill for the voice bits PLUS the data bits. We all know the data bits can carry the voice as well.

    The problem is that its all data. The switches and the routers see voice and data the same way. This is not true of antiquated systems used in some 3rd world areas, but it has been true of the 1st world telecommunications industry and especially North America for at least 30 years.

    So, how do they justify billing one bloke over $1000 bux and billing the next bloke $29 bux for the same damn thing? How? By trying to keep the underlying technology mysterious. By hiding this from the general public. By dirty tactics like delaying certain packet types. By being deceitful.

    The thing is that once _anyone_ has a broadband connection in place, the POTS voice dial up side uses so little bandwidth that it can easily be run over the digital link. The issue is time delays and here is where there are some problems.

    The data on the telecommuncations system is multiplexed and thus a byte of data placed into a switch will show up at its destination within a known number of milliseconds. This is not true of the IP traffic.

    What one could do if one had control over the "whole system" is set it up so that part of the bandwidth would be filled with time sensitive traffic and the remainder would be filled with IP traffic. This is basically how ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) works now. I won't bore anyone with details.

    By doing this we can guarantee that a byte dropped into the channel will arrive within "x" milliseconds. Probably the IP traffic which takes the back seat will also arrive within "x" milliseconds as well. Voice over IP takes advantage of this.

    Voice traffic is digitized at 64kB/sec = 8192 bytes per second with switching and signalling stollen from the bit stream. This is where 56kb comes from. Instead of multiplexing the voice bytes, we can instead gather up a bunch of the bytes and drop them in a packet and hope they arrive in time. If we gathered up say about 8000 bytes then we would have 1 second of voice. If instead we gather up say 80 then we have 1/100th of a second of voice. A UDP packet with say 80 bytes or 1/100th of a second of voice will probably arrive in time.

    We can also do some cleaver things. We can put some imperceptible delays into the bit stream and create a little buffering - a few milliseconds worth - and gain tolerance of the bunchyness we get in the byte stream of VOIP. As most people know. Its pretty good.

    But it leaves the telecommunications industry in a dilemma because they offered a reliable time guaranteed transmission mechanism for voice data via the ATM transmission method and now we don't want to use it because its priced too high. Too high here means higher than what they could sell the surplus bandwidth of their networks for. So in effect by offering IP traffic at $29 per month they cut their own throats and what saves their bacon for now is that most people don't understand how
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fermion (181285)
      The phone business has gone through many levels of obsolescence. It used to be they could charge large amounts of money for each phone in a house, not each line, but each phone. Then they could charge large amounts of money to call your neighbor 15 miles away. Then they could charge large amounts of money for caller id, and more money to block caller id. The bells have always been able to come up with services to keep themselves profitable.

      In fact the phone company can and do still do all these things

  • by unity100 (970058) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @05:06AM (#19008993) Homepage Journal
    These stuff show company philosophies. You shouldnt expect anything that would mean caring for the customer from a company that tried to control and spoil one of the biggest inventions of all time, the internet.

    Since it was not profitable, they just scratched off their customers and thats that. Same approach with net neutrality; "Im gonna screw anyone in any fashion as long as i can, and then do away with them"

  • With cable or DSL, you can choose among dozens of VOIP services. Who cares whether AT&T offers one too?
    • And you're not convinced that this strategic move wasn't actually inspired by the Verizon patent take-down of Vonage? I realize that this may a bit tinfoil-hatish, but why not move everybody back you your landlines. You'll probably make more money, and you'll avoid a court date with Verizon. Sounds like a win for AT&T. And in the game of corporations, winning isn't everything, it's the only thing.
  • iPhone, duck! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by chrism238 (657741)
    Well this doesn't bode well for VOIP on the iPhone, under Cingular, does it?
    • Uhmmm it's a cell phone. You pay the service bill regardless of how you use it. I'm certain though that there won't be an all data plan so unless you frequently call long distance or overrun your normal minutes allotment you wouldn't see any benefit to VOIP on your cell anyways.

      OTOH there probably will be an iChat interface with audio... so when you do have a good solid connection you could probably use that with others who also have iChat and audio in play. With iChat there is no legal requirements that it
  • by spoon00 (25994)

    Probably a precursor to AT&T blocking all VOIP traffic on their lines. Hmmmm, anti-trust.

    Economics of Net Neutrality [aei-brookings.org]

  • In my neighborhood, we have a bulk agreement with the local cable TV agreement to get their VOIP service. Naturally it's total crap. Vonage over their cable modem is less crap. I'm trying to get a damn phone, a regular copper POTS phone but the phone company won't wire us up due to the bulk agreement. I have a bunch of "high tech" options available to me (cell, VOIP, cable VOIP, VOIP over fixed wireless), but not a single damn one of them work for me as well as a straight up two wire copper phone right
    • Yes, and access to and use of those copper pairs shouldnt be in the hands of a coporate monopoly (I'm talking SBC here, that has taken over the AT&T name).

      The copper plant should be regulated, and equal access for all. It should be owned by the people, not a money-grubbing corp, especially considering that it was the money paid to the original AT&T monopoly by the captive customers for decade that financed its existence (and then later to the mini geographic monopolies that paid for its upkeep)

      "Str
  • by kilodelta (843627) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @08:21AM (#19009709) Homepage
    I'm so happy I live in RI. Here, the state and it's citizens own the E-911 system. We only get the intrado db lookup from Verizon. So it's no problem to get VoIP to work with our E-911 system.

    But at&t is blowing smoke up peoples asses and they should know it. They OWN the damned E-911 systems and could easily interconnect it. But they won't because they're trying to prop up dying copper pair.

    Coax and fiber are the future, not copper pair, at least not for OSP. As it is right now, the regional operators (All three of them!) have pretty much no idea what they have for OSP when it comes to copper. Let me qualify that a little, in the corridors between Boston and New York, then Chicago, etc, cities, they have no clue.

    The nice thing about coax or fiber is that it has broadband characteristics, so provisioning is done at the terminal ends, not the OSP side.
  • What is the issue? They're not offering service.....to whom....for what reason?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PCM2 (4486)
      The posting makes it sound like AT&T has begun a process of systematically canceling its CallVantage customers' service. This is not the case; I, too, have CallVantage and it was sounding crystal clear as of five minutes ago.

      What is happening is that certain CallVantage customers have always had trouble obtaining E911 service. In the past, I think what has happened is that those customers got letters saying, "We are working diligently to provide you with E911 service, but you must understand that YOU DO

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