VOIP confusion 1

Looks like the FCC’s attempt to clarify the legal environment for voice over IP is having exactly the opposite effect.

This is what happens when a regulator tries to take half-steps at a time when bold action is required. The reality is that the telecom industry is being tranformed before our eyes. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is absolutely right to believe that social policy obligations like law enforcement access and emergency access (911) shouldn’t go away, simply because the technology changes. But by trying to stuff VOIP into rules designed for old-fashioned telecom, he’s just going to harm competition and innovation. A better approach would be to look at how VOIP could facilitate achievement of social policy goals, but that means rethinking the entire regulatory edifice.

One comment on “VOIP confusion

  1. Rob Frieden Sep 30,2005 4:49 pm

    Hello All:

    Kevin’s quite right about incrementalism at the FCC on VoIP. I believe it will become increasingly difficult for the FCC to work with legislatively crafted service classifications, such as telecommunications, telecommunications service and information service. In reclassifying DSL from telecommunications service to information service the FCC had to find a way to ignore or subsume the telecommunications function that served as the foundation for applying Title II common carrier regulation.
    In the CALEA wiretap order the FCC had to make another pragmatic acknowledgement: that the definition of “telecommunications carrier” in CALEA covers a broader range of ventures than a similar term used in the Communications Act.
    So we now have telecommunications, which means bit transport that’s not stand alone and at least two types of telecommunications service providers, depending on whether it’s law enforcement or telecommunications policy at issue.
    Confusing.

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