Wow - as we lead up to Freedom to Connect (F2C) in DC next month, isen warns us of something that really hits home as we all need to rally around the cause of Network Neutrality. Turns out there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that VOIP services such as Vonage and Skype are not working well for people with Comcast cable modem service. He points out that Comcast has their own POTS-over-cable phone service, so they would be particularly sensitive about competition.
As a subscriber to Comcast cable modem service AND their "digital phone" service, I can confirm the evidence on Skype. Up until a few months ago, my son was a regular Skype user, chatting with his friend as they played online games like Runescape, or just as they did homework. But then the quality went way downhill. Ironically, that meant that they would simply do the same thing on Comcast's digital phone service, which is a free local call, which effectively keeps us from using that service ourselves, for things like toll calls into the city or to family and friends elsewhere. It has allowed me to easily visualize a life without POTS at all - as it is, I haven't given out any number other than my mobile in at least a year, if not longer.
I tried to originate a Skype call a couple days ago, and it was painful, a sharp contrast to my experience six months ago.
As loyal Comcast customers over the past five years (for cable modem, for cable tv, and for four lines worth of POTS over cable) - I assure you it is a mistake to play with this kind of fire. I am happy to make my home available to any telco/network geeks out there who want to hook up some sort of monitoring or test gear to determine what if anything is being done to VOIP packets, and if, as I suspect, they are degrading VOIP service, I will lead the charge to go to the local government and get their franchise revoked...and take any other appropriate action to re-educate the folks at Comcast. I'm paying for a fat pipe to use as I want, and use it I shall.
And heaven help you if you get in the way of my ability to video iChat with my kids when I'm out of town.