Lamar Alexander's Still Alive?

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New at Reason: Jeff Taylor critiques the man in plaid's plan to save telecoms from their customers.

NEXT: Babylon Diary

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  1. You mean Lamar! Alexander, right?

  2. The land of the free and the home of the…

    Oh?

    Never mind.

  3. In the end, grabby little politicians seeking to feed at the trough of progress will fail. Distributed P2P networks with strong encryption are nearly invulnerable to regulators, and as computers get faster, it becomes even easier to assure that invulnerability.

    Once everyone knows how to make fire, it’s hard for the witch doctor to forbid the cooking of meat and warming of the cave.

  4. Say that these communications channels are banned, but people use them anyway. Imagine ads saying “Every time you make an untaxed phone call, Grandma loses out on prescription drugs and a school loses out on new textbooks.” Or “Untaxed phone calls support terrorists.”

  5. The way the government can control this whole thing is with the phone numbers. VoIP providers get their numbers in blocks from CLECs. As long as the government has the CLECs they can control who gets numbers. They can require anyone who gets blocks of numbers to be licensed. I am sure they could make life tough on the ISPs (who “allow” the service) as well. I agree that the free market will eventually prevail… but this business is so regulated already it won’t be an easy ride.

  6. Phoneguy:

    I completely agree with you. However, consider email, now ubiquitous, where once it was only a few with the right setup who could use it. My point is, in time, its possible that the microphone/pc voice setup could also easily become ubiquitous.

  7. I bet Lamar and Orrin Hatch get along famously. Fred Thompson, we hardly knew you.

  8. Jeff Taylor wrote –
    “Plus Skype is peer-to-peer, meaning there is no there there when authorities go looking for someone to slap with a court order.”

    Not true. There is always a “there” there in the sense that there will always some sort of runtime library + chip, or just some code if the whole thing is software based sitting on your PC that will convert sound+picture to data, frame it & put it on the wire. In theory this is no different from P2P file sharing software. Those kids got slapped with a court order.

  9. Let me see if I’ve got this straight.

    All kinds of folks are flocking to unregulated VoIP because it’s so much cheaper than telephoning home.

    Therefore the government has to regulate the system (like they do the expensive phone service) to “make those telephone services available to low-income Americans.”

    Can someone please teach our illustrious Members of Congress how to play Connect the Dots?

  10. Why buy traditonal numbers from the CLECS? Why involve them at all. Using free software like TeamSpeak, anyone with an internet connection and a microphone attached to their PC can talk to anyone else in the world with the same setup. Online gamers already do this all day long. I can talk to my buddy on the east coast for hours and hours without incurring nary a charge or using nary a “minute”. Oh, and my ISP would be hard pressed to discover this, as it just looks like data running down the line, and not very much data, at that. Not too mention Windows Messenger (comes with XP) has voice conversation capabilites built in!

  11. Hank, Can anyone call you from a POTS (plain old telephone service) line? People want to use their standard phone. People want a regular phone number. If you want to be connected to the existing network you need a number. The technology can certainly support a pure VoIP network… but interconnecting with the rest of the world is an issue. If CLECs were required, they could shut down Vonage and others in a heartbeat.

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