Monday, April 11, 2005


strangling Voice over Internet

Telecommunications in New Zealand isn't generally known for leading the world in innovation, thanks to the near total monopoly enjoyed by the former state-owned telco, Telecom NZ. But last month veteran Silicon Valley pundit Robert Cringely reported a rumor that did put New Zealand at the the forefront. Writing about the threat of Voice over IP to telcos, he said:

And there are other dirty tricks available to broadband ISPs. Telecom New Zealand, for example, is reportedly planning to alter TCP packet interleaving to discourage VoIP. By bunching all voice packets in the first half of each second, half a second of dead air would be added to every conversation, changing latency in a way that would drive grandmothers everywhere back to their old phone companies. This is because phone conversations happen effectively in real time and so are very sensitive to problems of latency. Where one-way video and audio can use buffering to overcome almost any interleaving issue, it is a deal-breaker for voice.

Not to worry, I read in the newspaper today. The government is satisfied that no dirty tricks are in the offing. Rather than rely of government queries and company assurances, I'd rather see real competition in New Zealand. Korea's broadband revolution is the direct result of the kind of competition New Zealand sorely lacks.

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