Last week, "Mr. Blog" alleged that "British Telecom appears to be explicitly blocking VoIP for their DSL subscribers." Jeff Pulver, as the operator of an open VoIP network, polled visitors on his own blog to see if this was actually occurring in practice. Pulver concluded that it was not and today, Mr. Blog agreed. Apparently BT had deployed a faulty router.
While this "incident" serves as an example of self-regulation, it is safe to assume that there are interests out there who hope that the blocking of VoIP applications occurs, if nothing more than to provide a nice anecdotal example to support a net neutrality mandate. In the current domestic broadband market, I am an optimist, recalling the ICE principle, or "internalizing complementary efficiencies," which holds that even a platform monopolist (which is not the situation in many geographic markets) will have incentives to voluntarily offer access when it is efficient to do so. For these providers, then, continued voluntary compliance with Chairman Powell's "Internet Freedoms," reiterated once again at the VON conference last month, eliminates any premise for regulatory intervention. As is now clear, well-intentioned folks like Jeff Pulver will be watching.