Sunday, June 29, 2003


The FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau should reject an Internet telephony provider's request for a declaratory ruling that its service is free from telecom regulations, say the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice.

The request from should be dismissed without prejudice or held in abeyance until the Commission completes work on two related proceedings that will determine the regulatory treatment of wireline broadband and cable modem services, the FBI and DoJ said today in comments filed in Wireline Competition docket 03-45.

The broadband proceedings are important to the FBI and DoJ because their outcome may affect how telecom carriers will meet their obligations under the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which requires carriers to help authorities with wiretaps and other law enforcement activities.

"If certain broadband telecommunications carriers fail to comply with CALEA due to a misunderstanding of their regulatory status, criminals may exploit the opportunity to evade lawful electronic surveillance," the FBI and DoJ said.

The Wireline Competition Bureau "should not allow a single broadband Internet service provider to cut to the front of the line and win for itself a uniquely favorable regulatory status in an ad hoc proceeding while the rest of the industry must await the outcome of the more thorough rulemaking proceedings," they added.

"If the bureau were to grant's request to declare that its broadband Internet offering is an unregulated service, such action could seriously constrain the Commission's range of options in determining the appropriate regulatory status of other broadband services in the broadband proceedings," they said.

Other commenters, including Verizon Communications, Inc., and BellSouth Corp., agreed with the FBI and DoJ that the larger proceedings should be completed before the FCC rules on's petition. But Cisco Systems, Inc., which supplies Internet telephony gear, expressed support for's request.

"The one course of action the Commission should avoid is to permit the regulatory status of computer-to-computer VoIP [voice-over- Internet protocol] to become unsettled," Cisco said. Doing so could well slow the growth of IP networks generally." In making its request last month, said its Free World Dialup (FWD) service "differs in key respects" from traditional telephone service and other forms of phone-to-phone Internet protocol
(IP) telephony. "FWD facilitates connectivity only to other FWD members who are on line when a call is made," it said. "FWD does not provide members with access to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) or cellular networks."

In addition, the service doesn't use regular phone numbers or customer premises equipment, the firm said. "Further, FWD provides no transmission capabilities; the member uses his or her own broadband connection, which sends and receives packets of information, some of which may include voice packets."

"By definition, FWD cannot be a `telecommunications service' because it does not provide users with `telecommunications,'" the firm said. It requested the declaratory ruling "to remove uncertainty regarding the regulatory status of its interactive FWD and concomitant regulatory responsibilities." - Tom Leithauser,

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?