VOIP is not cheating anyone. It is simply the future arriving.
VOIP is a disruptive technology. As always, those being disrupted complain loudly. But there is nothing dishonest about using VOIP. You buy the bandwidth - you use it as you see fit. The telcos better adapt to VOIP or die. But those using VOIP are just doing what captialists are supposed to do; exercising their prerogative in an open market.
The difference between a phone system and an internet bandwidth system is that the IP access can have massive bandwidth through simple off-the-shelf commodity components. A copper-based phone system is sourced expensively from proprietary (and hence non-competitive) over-engineered components, and uses outmoded expensive wires to deliver its service.
The confusion and debate over VOIP arises because many consumers are still stuck with accessing IP via an expensive custom-built voice network.
Bandwidth is cheap. I buy it in bulk. I should be free to browse the web, talk to friends or do whatever I want with that bandwidth. VOIP is as valid a traffic as any for me to put down that pipe and there should be no differentiation.
The voice network (the "local copper") is dead. It will take half a century to die, since the return has to be realised on the current investment. But it is stone dead. My grandchildren will access the world via radio, cable and satellite.
In the interim, I'm afraid the telcos have been caught in the nasty bind that faces any industry that requires massive capital investment: they grow fat in the good times; they suffer horribly when an alternative competitor arises because they do not have the liquidity to get out.
It happened to railroads. It is happening to telcos. The reason telcos are piling so enthusiastically into mobiles and cable and content is that they have to replace the copper as a source of income and very quickly.
Well, sorry for the telcos, and their shareholders. They were blue-chip investments in their day. They may be again if they can avoid going the way of the railroad. The analogy is those (very few) railroads that reinvented themselves as transportation networks: trucking, warehousing, air...
VOIP is a perfectly valid technology sold by business people responding to an opportunity and a demand. They are doing nothing wrong and nobody is being cheated. To continue the railroad analogy: the railroad can have basic safety rules around what you put in your containers, but they don't prevent you from shipping what used to be carried in their boxcars. They just adapted to carrying containers instead. They also had to adapt to a smaller slice of the transport market as shipping became more attractive and passengers went to airlines instead.
Right now I get bandwidth via ADSL down the copper only because an effective competitor is not yet available out here. ADSL represents an interim salvation for telcos much as containerisation did for railroads, and they may get enough benefit form it to save themselves and realise their ROI from the copper after all. But they need to stop whining about what traffic I choose to put down that pipe.
Just as soon as I can get a better and/or cheaper service through another pipe I'll switch. The current telco better be providing that alternate pipe else they'll lose my business.
Guess what: they won't be providing it. Nimble intelligent competitors are laying cable and hiring satellites and putting up wireless base stations. They will get to my village first. The only place the telco is competing is in mobile, and badly. They are fat and lazy and they will go down to better competitors.
It's called capitalism and it is in the best interests of the public, except those members of the public silly enough to leave their money in copper-based telcos.