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Vonage says broadband provider blocks its calls

A major broadband operator isn't letting Vonage calls through, and the VoIP provider wants an FCC investigation.

Internet phone provider Vonage said it's asked U.S. utility regulators to investigate allegations that a "major" broadband operator is deliberately blocking Internet phone calls.

Any investigation and its findings will add more tension to the relationships between providers of high-speed Internet and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), software that lets Internet connections double as inexpensive phone lines.

Vonage recently met with Federal Communications Commission representatives, said Vonage spokeswoman Brooke Schulz, to discuss an instance of "egregious, alarming and harmful port blocking." Port blocking is when Internet providers prevent traffic of certain kinds from traveling through their Internet Protocol (IP) networks.

Schulz confirmed earlier accounts of the complaint reported by Advanced IP Pipeline. She would not identify the operator or the FCC officials involved in the discussion. An FCC spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

This isn't the first time a VoIP operator has complained to the FCC about possible predatory practices by broadband providers that also sell their own version of VoIP service. In September, Nuvio, a Net phone service provider, asked federal regulators to ensure broadband providers that also sell phone services don't engage in predatory practices to stifle competition.