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Can You Hear Me Now?

Posted by Bob · May 27th, 2004 · 21 Comments

In the very near future (measured in months, not years) you’ll be able to make long distance calls anywhere in the world using your high speed internet connection with the same quality as you have now with a regular telephone. There is a recent technology called VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) that converts your voice into data packets that can be sent over the Internet.

Currently, the FCC considers this to be an information service. The service your phone company provides is a telecommunication service. Telecommunication services are taxed and regulated by the state and federal governments. So far, VoIP is not, but that’s about to change as this technology gets ready to go mainstream.

As soon as the Federal government decides how to tap your line.

And just what mainstream uses does this new technology have?

With the right hardware and software, you can take your phone with you and people can reach you at that number no matter where you are. Unlike a cell phone, you are not bound by area codes or roaming charges. Your number is unique to that actual device, where ever that device is. And the cost of using that device is constant anywhere you have a high speed connection.

You can ‘register’ that phone in any area code so your primary customer base can call it as a local call. You can have the Los Angeles office speaking to the Tokyo office for hours a day with the same costs as if it were a local call. If both offices were using VoIP, the only costs would be that of the internet connection.

And what is holding this up?

Telecommunications companies have to pay taxes and contribute to state and local mandates such as E911 and the Universal Service Fund. They also have to be CALEA compliant. CALEA (The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994) made it mandatory that all carriers had to assist law enforcement in electronic surveillance if presented with a court order.

This new VoIP technology presents carriers with a problem. The beauty of VoIP is that little or no phone company wires are used to complete a call, that is how they keep costs low (phone companies have the right to charge another carrier for using their lines to connect a call). To comply to the CALEA Act, VoIP companies would be forced to route a portion of your call through older “legacy” phone lines so they can be tapped if required. If VoIP didn’t route your calls through “legacy” equipment, the Feds would be forced to try to tap the entire Internet to find your call, a technical impossibility at the moment. And once common phone lines get involved, there go the cost savings.

The organization caught in the middle is the FCC. State public utility commissions, courts, the Department of Justice, FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency and others are all pushing the FCC to make a ruling as to whether VoIP is an “information” or “telecommunication” service. In other words, the Feds are asking that the technology be considered “telecommunications” so they can force fledgling VoIP companies to route their calls through “tappable” wires.

The FCC is also aware that an election is coming up. By making a decision, the FCC could essentially create a block of unhappy internet users voting against the current administration.

The only thing certain is that no decision will be forthcoming until 2005.

Categories: The Internet


21 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Nat // May 27, 2004 at 11:10 pm

    “Some White man got the word and put it in the White paper, the Washington Post” – Bill Cosby on the Tavis Smiley Show 05-28-04, complaining that his recent remarks to a Howard University graduating class had been misquoted.

    “I don’t give a blank about those right wing white people. They can’t do any more to us than they’ve already done” Bill Cosby on the Tavis Smiley Show 05-24-04

    Hey Bill, I’ve got news for you buddy. The reason “your people” (your words) have a 50% drop out rate is because of a deliberate Liberal policy of the past 40 years to dumb down the educational system. Maybe, instead of calling out the “right wing” and making excuses, you might want to check with Conservatives on their ideas for education.

    Maybe, (and I think they do) they have a better answer for this problem. It’s called accountability. An alien word to the NTU, but the one idea that might save “your people” from being taught “is you is or is you ain’t” is acceptable English.

    And Rick is all concerned about whether the government “may” find a way to listen in on conversations carried over VOIP. Let me ask you this, Rick. You think the Government has the time to listen to every conversation? Especially conversations conducted by people that the left wing has made into illiterate semi-functional morons?

    Or that we shouldn’t be listening to conversations where the national security of this country may be in jeopardy? And doesn’t it bother ANYONE that Cosby sees skin color even in a newspaper?

    Something tells me we have bigger issues than who “might” be listening on VOiP calls.

  • 2 Rick // May 27, 2004 at 11:21 pm

    If the government only had more folks like you, gNat, we’d be perfectly safe.

    And Rick is all concerned about whether the government “may” find a way to listen in on conversations carried over VOIP. Let me ask you this, Rick. You think the Government has the time to listen to every conversation? Especially conversations conducted by people that the left wing has made into illiterate semi-functional morons? — gNat, showing that he’s too illiterate to know the difference between the letters “B” followed by “o” followed by “b” and “R” followed by “i” followed by “c” followed by “k”.

    I didn’t write the last post, gNat.

    But thank you for adding “racist” and “illiterate” to your list of published traits.

  • 3 Mark // May 27, 2004 at 11:32 pm

    Am I the only one who hears a broken record? Someone who cannot comment about the topic posted by the author, but must bring everything around to a zealous regurgitation of talking points provided by the likes of a drug-addicted radio host and Fox’s Bill O’Lielly?

    The good thing about Democrats is that we have a lot of things, such as peace and prosperity, that our side brings to the table — plenty for us to talk about. The other side seems to always be looking for ways to cut us down, despite the great successes and advancements that progressives have brought America through the years.

    Funny thing is, one of the greatest progressives in American history was actually a Republican — Teddy Roosevelt. I’m positive that Teddy is continually rolling over in his grave when he sees what Republicans have become in the 21st Century (that being everything he fought against).

  • 4 Nat // May 28, 2004 at 4:40 am


    1. A psychotic disorder characterized by delusions of persecution with or without grandeur, often strenuously defended with apparent logic and reason.
    2. Extreme, irrational distrust of others.

    THEY’RE AFTER YOU, RICK! They’re coming to get you, man! Ashcroft has your name on the same list as all those terrorists. I’m surprised you didn’t say “the Bush Administration” wants to listen on your phone calls but that’s obviously implied by your rant about who is going to be listening to your phone conversations.

    Incidentally, when does pointing a racist remark by an entertainer make one a racist? That’s the most twisted logic you’ve used yet. And that’s saying something considering all the contortions you go through.

    Incidentally, if the leftwing has its way and Kerry surrenders to Achmed, Abdul and Ali; you won’t have to worry about telephones. There won’t be any. Then you’ll have to worry about the knock on the door.

    Yes, when Achmed, Abdul and Ali come to get you, Rick, just remember that ‘ol Natty warned you – and you wouldn’t listen.

  • 5 Nat // May 28, 2004 at 5:47 am

    Ohhhhhhhhhh……….. DUH!

    I get it now! (slap forehead with palm of hand)

    It’s only “racism” when a white person says something like that. How stupid of me to forget that in the Liberal handbook a black person can make a racist remarks and there is nothing wrong with it.

    In the Liberal handbook, only white males can possibly be racists.

    What if a prominent white comedian had gone on TV and said “a black reporter got the word and put it in a black newspaper, The ____________”. ?? The outcry would have been instantaneous and incessant. Front page on the NYT and the LAT. For days on end.

    All Cosby had to say was “I was not quoted correctly”. But no, HE infused skin color into the description of the reporter and the newspaper.

    It’s really quite disgraceful when you think about it.

  • 6 Rick // May 28, 2004 at 7:36 am

    I’m surprised you didn’t say “the Bush Administration” wants to listen on your phone calls but that’s obviously implied by your rant about who is going to be listening to your phone conversations.

    Well, my next-door-neighbor was right…

    Last night I was asking him if he thought I’d ever see an apology from gNat for his complaining that I censor him, when clearly I do not. We both laughed.

    “That’ll never happen!,” he said. “He’ll just go right over it as if it never happened.”

    And this morning, not only is no apology for that lying accusation to be found on this blog, but we also get to gloss over the fact that he went on the attack last night about my supposed “paranoia” (although he didn’t use the term until this morning) for the post on VoIP, which although it was attributed to me by gNat, was not written by me — and he’s still doing it.

    Oh…I just thought of something. I tend to write long sentences, containing subjunctive clauses, prepositional phrases — and even, like this, interpolating “sidewise remarks” — whether writing small notes or disquisitions. Perhaps that’s throwing the illiterate.

    gNat: Me no write post from yesterday. Me no say no things about VoIP. Not yesterday. Me no say that. That “Bob”.

    Well, hopefully, I didn’t throw him by putting quotes around Bob’s name.

    Not that it matters. The reality of it is that I thought Bob’s post was a good one. But gNat’s inability to recognize the difference between one human being who disagrees with him and another is an example of the deficiency in his thinking abilities. It’s why he can miss the irony of complaining that Bill Cosby makes a comment about racism on the part of a political wing by implying that the majority of African-Americans are ignorant — and, of course, blaming that on “Liberals.” (We can’t miss that point. After all, all that is evil, whether real or imagined evil, is the doing of “Liberals.”)

    I daresay I know more African-Americans who could read this blog and understand the posts than I know gNats who could perform that same task. And I know many more white people than African-Americans who mangle the English language.

    But it’s no surprise that gNat — who still can’t tell the difference between me and Bob — can neither spot those issues, nor understand how his generalization and condescending tone come across as thinly-veiled racism.

    It’s really quite disgraceful when you think about it.

  • 7 Bob // May 28, 2004 at 8:13 am

    There are VERY clear differences between myself and Rick.

    Perhaps the most important is that I am MUCH better looking! :)~

    And to straighten out the record yet again for our attention deficit poster, these are Bill Cosby’s words as quoted by the Washington Post:

    “People marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education, and now we’ve got these knuckleheads walking around. . . . The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting.”

    “I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was 2? Where were you when he was 12? Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn’t know that he had a pistol? And where is the father?”

    “People putting their clothes on backward: Isn’t that a sign of something gone wrong? . . . People with their hats on backward, pants down around the crack, isn’t that a sign of something, or are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up? Isn’t it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up . . . and got all type of needles (piercing) going through her body? What part of Africa did this come from? We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans; they don’t know a . . . thing about Africa.”

    “With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail. Brown versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person’s problem. We have got to take the neighborhood back. . . . They are standing on the corner and they can’t speak English.”

    “People used to be ashamed. . . . [Today] a woman has eight children with eight different ‘husbands,’ or men or whatever you call them now.”

    “The idea is to one day get out of the projects. You don’t just stay there.”

    “We have millionaire football players who can’t read. We have million-dollar basketball players who can’t write two paragraphs.”

    “We as black folks have to do a better job. . . . Someone working at Wal-Mart with seven kids, you are hurting us. We have to start holding each other to a higher standard.”

    “?We cannot blame white people?”

    “The incarcerated? These are not political criminals. These are people going around stealing Coca-Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake and then we run out and we are outraged, saying, ‘The cops shouldn’t have shot him.’ What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?”

    Source: The Washington Post

    And just to be complete and honor the readers by doing the research and not just passing gossip:

    I heard that the twin pillars of political censorship — liberal political correctness and black political correctness — were taking Cosby down.

    And that, I preconceived, would make a great column: Bill Cosby, an incomparable philanthropist and social satirist, gets attacked by the political correctness police for speaking his mind, telling some hard truths and airing some dirty laundry.

    But the facts got in the way of a good story.

    There was no chorus of criticism.

    Quite to the contrary, Cosby’s remarks were embraced by several of the leading black columnists in the country: DeWayne Wickham, Clarence Page, Colbert King, Leonard Pitts, Jr., and Thomas Sowell.

    Kweisi Mfume, the NAACP president who was on stage with Cosby, said later that not only did he agree with Cosby, not only did he make similar points in his own speeches, but that he had just heard the same points made by the philosophers in his barbershop.

    If you had listened to talk radio or read newspaper stories about “the flap,” you would think Cosby was hiding from a raging mob. But there was no mob. There was a straw mob, a phony flap.

    I combed the Internet, the wires and the transcripts for attacks on Cosby and came up empty.

    I did discover that the head of the NAACP legal defense fund, Theodore Shaw, spoke after Cosby at the commemoration and pointed out that many problems blacks face are not “self-inflicted” and that most of the people on welfare aren’t black. That?s hardly a searing condemnation.

    The New York Times managed to find a scholar named Michael Eric Dyson who said Cosby’s comment “betray classist, elitist viewpoints that are rooted in generational warfare.” Whatever that means.

    I also managed to find some rather mild rebuffs of Cosby from three black columnists in St. Louis, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh. Eugene Kane of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote, “Sometimes beating up on defenseless people is just being a bully.” Cosby called Kane up and Kane wrote a second column further qualifying his already qualified gibes.

    So, yes, Cosby fielded a couple of tough grounders and did issue a press release defending himself. But overall, his remarks were well received and his courage was widely praised.


    To be honest, I am having a problem finding quotes to back up my statement that I am better looking than Rick. I just have to build a web page, host it, write the content under an assumed name and quote from it.

    I’ll be back in a minute …

  • 8 Nat // May 28, 2004 at 8:51 am

    I was just reminded of when Rush Limbaugh referred to Donovan McNabb as a “black quarterback” and he was instantly fired from his commentating job at ESPN.

    We may, if we are lucky and we keep Bush, survive and outlast Islamofacism. It’s political correctness that will ultimately be the ruination of this country.

  • 9 Rick // May 28, 2004 at 8:58 am

    Once again — it always takes time, but if he spews enough, it happens — gNat and I find something about which we can agree.

    I firmly believe that “political correctness” is wrong and is a joke.

    On the other hand, I find being correct to be a virtue.

    If you’re interested in knowing why I see a distinction between Cosby’s comment and yours, we can discuss it. If you’ve just grown tired dodging issues relating to national politics and wish to divert things to the failings of overgeneralization, let’s not.

    And, of course, if you ever decide — as I’ve done on a couple of occasions — to note where you’ve made a mistake, such as perhaps accusing people unjustly of censoring you, or calling them paranoid because of someone else’s comments, or of just mixing them up with other members of the population at large, I’m up for that, too.

    (I just won’t be holding my breath.)

  • 10 Rick // May 28, 2004 at 9:02 am

    In fact, Bob is so much better-looking that we decided against posting a small picture of him and a bio so as to keep the hordes of women from overloading my DSL link.

  • 11 Bob // May 28, 2004 at 9:08 am

    Don’t thank me, it’s just one of those little things I do around here to help.

  • 12 nick meyer // May 28, 2004 at 9:15 am

    Rick, do not underestimate yourself. Speaking as a happily married 100% hetrosexual man,(by the way also very homophobic) you are quite attractive. But I do think you have way too much hair.

  • 13 Rick // May 28, 2004 at 9:46 am

    Okay, Nick. Now you’re scaring me. 😉

  • 14 Groundpounder // May 28, 2004 at 9:58 am

    Now Rick, that was the height of political incorrectness to suggest that it would only be hordes of women overloading your DSL link If Bob’s picture were posted.

    It’s nice to see a little humor on the comments side for a change. It must be the Friday before a three day weekend.

    Semper Fi

  • 15 Nat // May 28, 2004 at 10:27 am

    Rick/Bob … Bob/Rick. Is there a difference?

    Rick: LLL member
    Bob: LLL member

    They both spout the same tired ’60s Liberal rhetoric.

    Oh, there is one difference. Rick can actually diagram a sentence.

  • 16 Bob // May 28, 2004 at 10:50 am

    Saith gnat:

    I was just reminded of when Rush Limbaugh referred to Donovan McNabb as a “black quarterback” and he was instantly fired from his commentating job at ESPN.

    Again, just to be accurate, Limbaugh’s statement was this:

    “I don’t think he’s been that good from the get-go,” Limbaugh said. “I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn’t deserve. The defense carried this team.”

    Also saith gnat:

    It’s really quite disgraceful when you think about it.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • 17 Nat // May 28, 2004 at 1:03 pm

    Well I have a new respect for the telephone today. I will never again think of it as an inanimate plastic object filled with little funny wires. No, my telephone is a means for me to communicate with my government.

    Knowing that AG Ashcroft is listening to every conversation I have, I can now use that opportunity to let the AG know my views. Of course, in this case, I happen to support AG Ashcroft 100% so my comments as far as the job he is doing would be flattering.

    And since NO deputy AG in this Administration is in the stir and since NO deputy AG in this Administration is busy erecting walls between the FBI and the CIA so that terrorists can operate freely, then I will be pleased to let the Attorney General know that I approve of his staff’s actions.

    And it won’t bother me if the AG listens when I call out for pizza, or order some flowers or speak to members of my church. See, it won’t bother me because, as a law abiding citizen, I have nothing to hide.

    When these whinging little Liberals start to get all paranoid over whether the government plans to tap their phones, it kind of makes you wonder why. Do they have some scam going they don’t want anyone to know about? If they’re not hiding anything then what is the BFD?

    Methinks they doth protest too much.

  • 18 Bob // May 28, 2004 at 1:15 pm

    Perhaps this is why the law is in effect:

    May 28, 2004, 11:24AM

    Team effort helped trace terrorism call
    Dispatch office, Alltel handled threat

    Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

    RICHMOND — Workers in the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s dispatch office are being credited for helping locate a person in Afghanistan who threatened to assassinate President Bush and set off explosions in the United States.

    Eight Sheriff’s Department employees and three workers with the local telephone company, Alltel, received certificates of appreciation from the FBI.

    Federal officials said action was taken against the caller but could not offer any specific details or say if an arrest occurred.

    “This demonstrates how cooperation locally can result in something done rather quickly halfway around the world,” said Stephen L. Morris, assistant special agent in charge of the Houston FBI office.

    The episode began about 3:30 p.m. March 18 when the phone rang in the dispatch office.

    “An individual made threats to blow up places. He never named anything specifically. He said he had the means, the people and the explosives to carry it out,” Sheriff Milton Wright said Thursday.

    About 30 minutes after the conversation started, the caller, who spoke English, said he was going to assassinate Bush.

    Wright said dispatchers spoke to the man on and off for about five hours. Sheriff’s officers contacted the local FBI office and agents arrived in Richmond about an hour after the initial call.

    With the assistance of local phone company workers, the call was traced to Kabul, Wright said.

    Morris said the dispatchers and other officers did an excellent job in handling the call.

    He said officials do not know why the person chose to call Fort Bend County.

    Morris said information gathered by the FBI as a result of the call was turned over to American intelligence agencies as well as officials with the host country.

  • 19 Rick // May 28, 2004 at 2:51 pm

    Why would you need walls between the FBI and the CIA if you’re going to ignore them and put in your own Chalabi dolls?

    Just be careful, once the batteries die, Chuckie Chalabi takes on a life of his own…

    As for the “nothing to hide” comment, one can only ponder a few things: What, exactly, did the Founders of the United States have to hide? Why, exactly, did they build in protections and severely hamper the functions of government? And why do you live behind walls, gNat? If you let us put microphones and cameras in your house, not only will the world be a safer place, but you won’t need to post your garbage on the blog; it will be available 24 x 7.

  • 20 Harry // May 28, 2004 at 4:37 pm

    I am sorry, but I do not see the need to route the calls through the legacy system. There already exists the data-sniffing technology to process and scan all traffic for the specific phrases that raise alarm bells.

    It is about raising taxes, not about snooping.

    The administration does not care what we say or do, unless it disagrees with their personal moralities, in which case they will file the information away until they can make whatever they see as “immoral” into “illegal”.

    Raising taxes, on the other hand, particularly taxes on the people, but can be shielded though corporate structures, is a major goal.

    It allows the rise of an elite that are intellectual and morally bankrupt. The best and the nastiest set up corporations to shield their taxes, while the dumb labor from day to day and pay more taxes.

    The fat cats get richer, bribe (I mean make campaign contributions) the politicians to shift the laws away from equal taxation, to a base where the stupid get taxed more and the fat cats have more loopholes to exploit.

    Then the fat cats people go out and buy media companies, or shares in media companies, and use pressure to shift the policies of those media companies to convince a good proportion of the stupid people that the high taxes are there because of the social programs. They get these even-stupider-than-most people to scream and shout about anything irrelevant. They blow minor things out of proportion, like a stain on a dress.

    They convince these stupider-than-most people that six individual soldiers were bad apples, rather than the system, but not as bad as the “enemy”. An “enemy” that has thier soon-to-be victim sitting in the same type of white plastic chair as one of the six “bad apples” in another now-famous photo, on floors that are the same color as that now-infamous prison, with walls the same color, and wearing a jumpsuit that only the US uses to keep it’s prisoners in.

    The dog is not being wagged by the tail, someone has stuffed a flag pole up it’s rectum and is waving it around on that. And these even-less-smart people are queuing up with their tubes of K-Y, waiting for their turn.

    I am glad I still have British citizenship. The flag poles Tony Blear uses to shaft people with are smaller.

  • 21 Groundpounder // May 28, 2004 at 6:33 pm

    The first two paragraphs of Harry’s comment pretty much summed up my initial reaction to Bob’s post. Kinda lost me after that though. Wow!

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