I activated my Vonage phone account today, with the nifty virtual phone number feature so I have both a "720" Colorado number and a "202" DC number on the same phone. In with the welcome package, behind the voice mail instructions and advanced features directions, there is this peculiar document called "Terms of Service." And, sure enough, you read it and it's a bona fide contract between me and Vonage.
So what, you say? I have contracts o'plenty in my life, most of which I've never read.
But in alternate universe of landline telecommunications, there are no contracts (except for large enterprise customers). Tariffs have ruled as the only valid contract terms. Only if state regulatory commissions allow a tariff to go into effect, are its terms legal between the provider and the customer. Further, those are the only legal terms. No one can contract around them. A small step in the creative destruction of regulation.