Let me add my knowledge and background to this subject as a means to
assure folks of the hoax this currently is.
I work today for Bell Labs (Lucent Technologies) and my career of
some 30 years of telecommunications included AT&T Long Lines, AT&T
Headquarters, Bellcore (the R&D for the baby bells after divestitute)
and now Lucent Bell Labs.
The idea of a modem tax or charge for data connections (as opposed
to voice calls) did arise several years ago. It never went anywhere
and there are good reasons for that.
1. To do so would have required the FCC to view and regulate differently
the same call that you make just because it terminated at an ISP's
modem lines. Since these calls are absolutely no different than a
voice call, that'd certainly be a difficult thing to monitor and
2. The ability to distinguish the type of call (data vs. voice) is
not something the telephone network can do today. This is not to say
that it isn't possible to develope a line monitoring capability that
would be able to tell the difference between data and voice, but that'd
require suignificant costs to the telephone companies.
3. Since the data call and voice call use exactly the same telephone
company resources, there is really no cost basis to justify charging
different rates based on type of call (Note: those familiar with ISDN
see special ISDN note at the end of this post).
4. The question of longer calls because of the internet usage was the
driving force for the early attempt at special costs or the modem tax idea.
BUT, the longer usage is only an issue in areas with flat rate service
areas (such as where I live in NJ). I can make all the calls I want
for as long as I want to an area of about 8 miles in radius.
Certainly, anyone with teenagers truly appreciated that even before
the internet came along. The local telephone companies would LOVE to
end flatrate billing service but they are up against the local Public
Utility Commissions and, of course, some rather active consumer groups.
Bottom line today... The modem tax or ISP data call charging seem
to come up at least every year when someone finds some isolated information
about what has gone on before ... or maybe some people just like to
start rumors. Believe me, ANY such action or proposal today would
be front page news everywhere, so until you read it in the newspapers
or hear it on the 6 o'clock news, you can be pretty sure its just
the old rumor starting again.
Hope that helps;;;
ISDN uses: ISDN does cost the telephone company more to provide.
To have ISDN service requires different line equipment in the telephone
office that you are connected to. Additionally, the telephone company can
charge differently for ISDN data calls because they do guarantee the data
call will be digital end-to-end (even though 99% of voice
calls also are). The telephone company DOES know when an ISDN data call
is made because the dialing sequence includes information (it's called the
bearer capability) which is sent with the dialed number information.
There is a unique Voice bearer capability and a separate Data bearer
capability. Now there have already been methods developed by some
equipment/software providers that will make the call on a voice basis and
then switch to data transmission. Such a protocol/handshake requires
coordination and equipment/software compatability at each end of the call.
Doing this doesn't guarantee end-to-end digital connectivity and the
data use might then fail if the connection uses any analog connectivity,
but the use of analog facilities has almost completely ended so that's a
limited possibility anyway.
Linda and Bill Sohl -- Budd Lake, NJ -- email@example.com