FCC moving forward on VOIP

The FCC will address two voice over IP items at its February meeting next Thursday:

ITEM NO. BUREAU SUBJECT

1 WIRELINE COMPETITION TITLE: Petition for

Declaratory Ruling that Pulver.comÂ’s Free World Dialup
is Neither Telecommunications Nor a Telecommunications
Service (WC Docket No. 03-45).
SUMMARY: The Commission will consider a Memorandum
Opinion and Order concerning Pulver.comÂ’s petition for
declaratory ruling regarding the classification of its
Free World Dialup service.

2 WIRELINE COMPETITION TITLE: IP-Enabled Services.

SUMMARY: The Commission will consider a Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking concerning issues relating to
services and applications making use of the Internet
Protocol, including but not limited to “voice over
Internet Protocol.”

Look closely at the summary of the second item, which is the kickoff of
the long-awaited VOIP proceeding. The Commission is bending over
backwards to emphasize that these are data applications, not another
form of telephony as we know it.

The framing is clearly intended to set up a decision not to subject
VOIP to legacy regulation as a “telecommunications service.”
We’ll see if that’s what happens; the Chairman controls what gets
proposed but needs three votes to adopt anything. The VOIP
proceeding is going to draw out a great deal of political activity on
both sides. There is a strong group of interests that will
advocate regulation in order to protect existing revenues and subsidy
flows.

This will be an important fight for the future of the Internet.
The tech community needs to realize what’s at stake, and support
efforts to keep VOIP out of the legacy regulatory environment.