TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: FCC Further Deregulates Net Calls

FCC Further Deregulates Net Calls

Lisa Minter (
Tue, 09 Nov 2004 12:19:26 -0500

By Ben Charny
Staff Writer, CNET

The nation's top telephone regulators on Tuesday further deregulated
Internet phone services.

The Federal Communications Commission ruled that states are now barred
from imposing telecommunications regulations on Net phone providers,
which treat calls no differently than any other application on the
Internet. That class of operators includes Vonage Holdings, which
asked the FCC for just such a designation in May, plus Verizon
Communications, AT&T and dozens of other commercial Internet
providers, according to those familiar with the FCC's thinking.

"This landmark order recognizes a revolution has occurred," FCC
Chairman Michael Powell said at the meeting.

The FCC's decision was a general one, was widely anticipated, and
answers just one of dozens of questions about how regulators will
ultimately treat Internet phone services, typically referred to as
voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Much of the nitty-gritty of
policymaking is still to come, as the FCC plods away at drafting a set
of rules for new services like Vonage's that rely on Internet
Protocol, the backbone of the Internet.

For instance, Vonage had also asked in its May petition whether it
would be considered a telephone or information service, a designation
that means the difference between a draconian and very light
regulatory environment for the carriers. The commission did not answer
that question Tuesday.

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