US regulator the Federal Communications Commission is investigating allegations that telco networks are deliberately killing off Voice over Internet Protocol calls on their networks.
Network management software means telcos could, in theory at least, stop or degrade traffic identified as voice calls. The complaint was made by Vonage Holdings.
"We're very actively on this case and we are taking it pretty seriously," said Michael Powell, chairman of the FCC, according to the Advanced IP Pipeline which broke the story. More details here.
Powell told the newswire that he believed blocking was coming from rural Local Exchange Carriers rather than big providers. Vonage would not comment. Some states in the US have asked for the power to tax and regulate VoIP providers but the FCC has so far resisted.
It is not clear whether the blocking of VoIP calls would breach FCC regulations but it might be considered anti-competitive behaviour. Telcos are considered "common carriers", like the postal service, and have responsibilities to carry all traffic regardless of type. ®