Tuesday, November 09, 2004

FCC rules VoIP is interstate 

As already stated by Michael Powell at the VON, the FCC planned to make all Internet related regulation federal.

The first step has happend today (in a very close 3-2 ruling):

The Federal Communications Commission ruled 3-2 that states are now barred from imposing telecommunications regulations on Internet 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 in Washington, D.C.

Response from states was muted. A representative for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners said the states are focusing now on a court hearing in mid-November in which Minnesota utility regulators will argue they have a right to oversee Vonage and other Net phone service providers. The state is seeking to overturn a ruling that states cannot subject VoIP providers to their rules.

Powell and two of the four FCC commissioners suggested Tuesday that states still have a role to play--namely to protect consumer interests.


More on CNET News and also on internetnews.com

Of course the VoIP and IP communicatiions community headed by Jeff Pulver reacted immediately and positively on the decision. Jeff commented extensivley on this, so did Tom Keating (who included all 5 statements of the commissioners) and Om Malik, who was supremely impressed by FCC Chairman Michael Powell’s remarks on this decision.

"Just as consumers personalize their cell phones with ring tones, pictures and applications, the same is possible with internet voice. Consumers have come to expect technology to be tailored to their preferences—“My Amazon,” “My Tivo,” “My Ipod.” Internet voice, ushers in the era of “My Telephone.” Adding enhancements to voice is no longer a highly complex and expensive modification to the network – now it is just a matter of adding to the next software release."

Powell went on to say, “The genius of the Internet is that it knows no boundaries. In cyberspace, distance is dead. The Order recognizes that several technical factors demonstrate that VoIP services are unquestionably interstate in nature. VoIP services are nomadic and presence-oriented, making identification of the end points of any given communications session completely impractical and, frankly, unwise.”

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