TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: FCC Chief Warns VoIP-Backers of Rock Star Syndrome

FCC Chief Warns VoIP-Backers of Rock Star Syndrome

Jack Decker (jack-yahoogroups@withheld)
Wed, 09 Mar 2005 13:19:01 -0500

Tue Mar 8, 5:55 PM ET

By Eric Auchard

SAN JOSE, Calif. (Reuters) - The outgoing chief regulator of
U.S. communications markets on Tuesday said phone calls via the
Internet have become a fact of life but warned the emerging industry
not to become cocky in its success.

In his last public speech as chairman of the Federal Communications
Commission (news - web sites), Michael Powell told Internet-based
phone service providers that the industry has been secured against
efforts to use regulation to defeat it.

"There is something about the voice over 'net industry that has really
taken root, that won't be uprooted," Powell told an audience at the
Voice on the Net (VON) conference.

Powell made protecting Internet services from traditional phone
regulations a touchstone issue in his eight-year stint at the FCC
(news - web sites), first as a Republican member of the commission,
and for the last four years, as chairman. But his legacy remains in
question if opponents of the free-wheeling Internet industry succeed
in bringing it under the existing regulatory regime.

"The future is so bright for voice over the net," Powell said, then
warned: "But you won't be a rock star forever."

He said that the industry's growing success made it vulnerable to
critics who will increasingly hold it responsible for service outages,
security breakdowns or other disruptions.

Powell compared the position of Internet communications to a decade
ago when the mobile phone industry became a mainstream communications
technology. Flush with success, the wireless industry ignored customer
complaints about network reliability and invited increased government
regulation, he said.

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