Phoney Baloney


My sincere apologies to those sick of my rants on broadband. But, hey, they keep serving up high, hanging curve balls.

The latest is a federal judge's ruling that Minnesota cannot treat voice over Internet protocol vendor Vonage as any old phone company. The state utility commission wanted to force Vonage to collect fees to kickback to the state's 911 service fund, clearly a prelude to demanding Vonage participate in other state-mandated shakedowns and cross-subsidies.

But the judge found that whatever Vonage is, it is not a telephone service operator. That decision is proper and welcome, but notice where that leaves us.

A federal appeals court a few days before ruled that cable Net service providers are phone service operators. Yet now a different federal court finds that an add-on service that rides on top of a cable Net connection to specifically provide voice-to-voice communication is not a phone service.

To recap, the law says your cable modem is a phone, except when you use it as a phone. Then it is not a phone.