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Powell Pledges To Move On FCC Regulation of VoIP

by Glen Shapiro, LawAndTax-News.com, New York

21 October 2004


Speaking at a trade show in Boston this week, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Michael Powell came out in favour of federal regulation of the burgeoning Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) industry by his agency.

Earlier this month, sixty-two members of Congress, including thirty-three members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote to the FCC urging the telecoms regulator to "immediately declare" that VoIP services are interstate in nature, and that the Commission therefore has the sole authority to regulate them.

The FCC is in the process of conducting a study on the regulation of the VoIP, or internet telephony market, additionally looking at issues such as carrier obligations relating to emergency services calls and potential contributions that should be made by the industry to the Universal Service Fund.

Telling delegates attending the VON 2004 trade show that "This (internet telephony) is a different way and deserves a different regulatory proposition", Mr Powell provided a further indication of the FCC's position on the matter, announcing that:

"The first step is to establish federal jurisdiction."

Observers say that this is very necessary in order to put an end to the uncertainty which is likely to arise from previous and ongoing court battles regarding oversight of the VoIP sector.


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