In article <firstname.lastname@example.org>, jack-
> A comment on this story follows the excerpt ...
> Net telephone fees have users fuming
> Published: January 26, 2005, 10:06 AM PST
> By Ben Charny
> Staff Writer, CNET News.com
> John Rolff's latest broadband phone bill contained three words he
> vowed never to see again: "regulatory recovery fee."
> The same charge was the reason he dumped his old phone provider, SBC
> Communications, in favor of Primus Telecommunications' Lingo, which
> lets his broadband line double as his phone line. From all
> appearances, Lingo hadn't been "adding these little nickel and dime
> charges," he said.
> But now, the 38-year-old software engineer -- along with 755,000
> others -- is learning that this had never really been the case. Lingo,
> Vonage, Time Warner Cable and every[*] other commercial provider of
> voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services have been collecting
> government fees for years. It's only in recent months that most have
> been coming clean on their statements -- to fend off critics, as the
> spotlight on Net phone services grows.
> Some, notably state governments, have called for broadband telephone
> services to pay the same regulatory fees that the traditional local
> phone providers -- known as the "Baby Bells" -- do. The Federal
> Communications Commission has so far kept regulators' hands off VoIP.
> Hoping to counter calls for direct taxation and regulation, many of
> the Net phone operators now identify a "regulatory recovery fee" line
> item of 50 cents to $3 as part of their regular monthly service
> charges. They say they're highlighting the portion of local phone fees
> the Bells have always charged them for completing calls on local
> "A lot of people were raising this concern that we weren't funding
> telephone projects like the Bells were," said Jeffrey Citron, CEO of
> VoIP provider Vonage Holdings. "That's a red herring -- I say 'malarkey'
> to it. We already fund part of it, and we wanted to show our customers
> and everybody else."
> Net phone companies insist that the fees are legitimate, merely
> offsetting the costs of taxes and regulatory fees passed on to them by
> the local phone companies for completing Net calls, they say.
> Nevertheless, some critics say the label is at best misleading --
> and at worst a misrepresentation with potential for abuse.
> The line item attempt to soothe angry state regulators seems instead
> to have riled VoIP customers, many of whom admire the outsider stance
> of broadband phone services as well as the cheaper rates. Rolff said
> he no longer views his operator as a lovable underdog with a hot
> technology trying to topple the Bell Goliaths.
> Full story at:
> [*Jack Decker COMMENT: Can you spot the false statement in this story?
> It is, "every other commercial provider of voice over Internet
> Protocol (VoIP) services have been collecting government fees for
> years." First of all, many of the providers of VoIP service haven't
> been in business for "years", second, even today there are providers
> (such as VoicePulse) that do not collect a regulatory recovery fee. I
> have been opposed to the addition of these fees from the outset
> because they are almost never mentioned adjacent to the advertised
> price, thus making it difficult for customers who want to compare
> monthly rates, and putting those who don't resort to such trickery at
> a disadvantage (by making their competitors' prices look lower than
> they really are). All the customer cares about is the bottom line,
> and that's the price he wants to see when making price comparisons.]
> How to Distribute VoIP Throughout a Home:
> If you live in Michigan, subscribe to the MI-Telecom group:
You know, if this baloney keeps up I'll just get the new USB FXS adapter
for Skype and tell all the phone companies to pound sand. There are
numerous IP to PSTN gateways for Skype too.
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I have an interesting gimmick here I
got from Mike Sandman. It is called an 'FX-200 VOIP Port Converter'.
Its purpose is to allow the use of your VOIP line from anywhere. It
gets its power from your VOIP phone adapter. You plug your VOIP line
into one side of it, and your landline telephone into the other side
of it. Then, like a 'WATS Extender' or 'Call Extender' you can be at
someone else's house, make a *local call* to your home and dial out on
your VOIP line. It can be password protected of course, to prevent its
getting hacked or abused. Example: you dial into your local POTS
number, it rings once or twice (you program how long it should ring
before getting answered) then there is a 'click' and you hear dialtone
from your VOIP line. Dial to wherever. You can program in a passcode
if desired also. You can also program how long the line should be held
open. The major drawback is the audio level is not as good as you
would get otherwise. No reason you have to have a VOIP line as the
output; any phone line will work; it is just a 'call extender' device,
but theoretically at least, supposedly programmed with the required
algorythms best suited for VOIP connections. You can also use it in
reverse if desired; that is use a VOIP line to some foreign country
like China for example) then a local POTS call from wherever the
computer is locaed in China. Ask Mike Sandman ( email@example.com ) for
more details on these devices if you want one. PAT]