TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: VoIP -- to Regulate or Not to Regulate?

VoIP -- to Regulate or Not to Regulate?

Lisa Minter (
Thu, 04 Nov 2004 06:51:06 -0500

Telcos are awaiting Chairman Michael Powell's proposal to the full
Federal Communications Commission on regulating voice-over Internet
protocol service as early as late November.

This is a reversal for Powell, who had taken a hands-off approach to
broadband and Internet-based phone technologies. Federal rules could
preempt plans by some states -- and Michigan is one of them -- to
regulate VoIP technology.

Michigan telcos think the explosive national growth of VoIP --
reportedly to over one million subscribers in 2004 compared to 131,000
in 2003 -- probably grabbed Powell's attention. But if the FCC sets
rules, they expect those to be minimally intrusive.

"It's amazing that a year to two ago, VoIP wasn't a word that entered
anyone's vocabulary," said Matthew Resch, Lansing spokesman for
Texas-based SBC Communications Inc. [NYSE: SBC]. Federal regulation
could head off a patchwork of state regulations, he said.

"I think nearly every telco is looking at deploying some sort of VoIP
service," said Scott Stevenson, president of the Telecommunications
Association of Michigan, a trade group that includes most telcos and
telephone service providers operating in the state. It reportedly was
a hot topic at the association's October meeting.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Just like telephones in many ways. In
the the late 19th century 'telephone' was not a word in most people's
vocabulary, but by 1901-1905 nearly everyone had heard of the device
and many folks had even used one. PAT]

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