Democracy & Technology Blog Net neutrality regulation wouldn’t solve this problem

Nearly 20 percent of Internet telephone test calls experienced unacceptable call quality over the last 18 months, according to Brix Networks. The company provides a free voice quality testing portal ( for measuring the quality of broadband Internet phone connections.
Wall Street Journal columnist Lee Gomes interviewed Brix Chief Technology Officer Kaynam Hedayat about the findings:

Why the decline?
With the emergence of sites like YouTube, and music downloads and emails with large attachments, there is just more traffic on the Internet.
Why are phone calls so susceptible to Internet traffic increases?
Voice calls are very real-time-sensitive. If the other person’s voice drops off, you can’t carry on the conversation. It becomes like the old days when you called international over a satellite. The delays were so long that you had to say a sentence, pause a couple of seconds without saying anything, and then wait for a response from the other end.

If Congress enacts net neutrality regulation, network providers could prioritize VoIP services but they would have to do so on a nondiscriminatory basis. That means they’d have to act as a disinterested wholesaler, treating every retail provider of VoIP services, including their own affiliates, equally. Would they do that? Or would it be more profitable to let all VoIP services deteriorate so consumers place a higher value on traditional phone services? You be the judge.
See:Internet Phone Quality Drops Significantly And Steadily Over Last 18 Months,” Jul. 24, 2006
See:Ringing Endorsement or a Bad Call? Test Program Gauges VOIP Quality,” by Lee Gomes, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 15, 2006

Hance Haney

Director and Senior Fellow of the Technology & Democracy Project
Hance Haney served as Director and Senior Fellow of the Technology & Democracy Project at the Discovery Institute, in Washington, D.C. Haney spent ten years as an aide to former Senator Bob Packwood (OR), and advised him in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee during the deliberations leading to the Telecommunications Act of 1996. He subsequently held various positions with the United States Telecom Association and Qwest Communications. He earned a B.A. in history from Willamette University and a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.