VOIP services

Remember When...

Vonage Holdings Corp. (NYSE: VG) and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) aren't quite singing "Kumbaya" following today's "collaborative agreement," but it does show that VOIP rivals can learn to play nice-nice when one of the parties (okay, Comcast) is facing an Federal Communications Commission (FCC) probe and outright complaints about its network management practices. (See Comcast, Vonage Strike VOIP Pact.)

And, for the record, one of Comcast's sharpest thorns on this issue, Free Press, said it was "baffled" by the Comcast-Vonage accord, wondering why such a deal was even necessary if Vonage's services weren't being "degraded or blocked" in the first place. (See Comcast/Vonage Baffles.)

But the agreement announced today did remind me of a time when Vonage and Canada's Shaw Communications Inc. locked horns over the operator's optional $10 per month "Quality of Service Enhancement."

The idea: for a bit extra, cable modem subs could improve the quality of Internet voice services offered by over-the-top third-party providers. The issue reached full boil in early 2006, with Vonage complaining that the Shaw's "enhancement" fee, despite being elective to the subscriber, was tantamount to a "VOIP tax" that would hinder customers from signing up for Vonage's service over the cable operator's own PacketCable telephony offering.

So, was this ever resolved? I haven't been able to get a good answer yet, but I'll keep trying. But, in the meantime, it's clear that Vonage's Canadian operation is still around, and Shaw still has a live Webpage promoting its Quality of Service Enhancement for $10 per month.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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