Over the last couple of weeks,there's been quite a ruckus caused by what some deem Canada-based ISP Shaw Communications' $10 "packet prioritization" fee for guaranteed Quality of Service on non-Shaw VoIP calls carried over their broadband network.
Although some in the Slashdot community seem to think it is reasonable for Shaw to ask for these voluntary fees, others are angry at the very idea.
"This is a good reason for me not to use thier (Shaw's) service anymore. I use Primus' VOIP telephone and Ive noticed its cutting in and out lately," writes skrye. "This is just bogus and If it continues they will lose me as an internet customer. Shaw also recently announced their VOIP service so this has to be considered anti-competitive."
"I can download and upload stuff super fast, I just can't talk on the phone which uses a few kb/s of my hundreds k of bandwidth. This is ridiculous," tdzido fumes. "I'm surprised that nobody from the VOIP world has done some serious research and actually sued the big telecoms. Or maybe I'm so wrong making my common-sense assumptions?"
But mikers adds another script to this argument: for technical reasons he doubts that the $10 QoS fee will be a bulletproof guarantor of QoS.
"The biggest problem I can see is that the QOS enhancement is only valid over Shaw's network, and if your voip provider doesn't peer directly with shaw, your voip packets will be at some other carrier's mercy once they leave Shaw," writes mikers.
"The second biggest problem is ping times," he adds. "Some of my VOIP providers are 13 hops from where I am (and three network peering points away), and even with QOS there is no way to keep round trip delay to less than 100 milliseconds -- at which point the lag is noticable and gets irritating. No amount of QOS from Shaw will fix the number of hops."
Then mikers indicates the teachable moments from this QoS controversy:
"The lesson to learn is that QOS is useful if you are on a saturated part of the shaw network, you call during busy times of the day AND (this is important) your voip provider is a short number of hops from you AND ON THE SHAW NETWORK!," he writes.
"Otherwise save your money," he writes. "Oh yeah, and write letters to the CRTC to get them to stop Shaw, Bell and Telus from doing this two tier internet garbage!"