FCC Chair Wants Federal Control of VoIP Regulations

WASHINGTON

The head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says he wants to protect voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) phone services from being taxed and will push his colleagues at the federal agency to keep VoIP from being heavily regulated by state governments. FCC Chairman Michael Powell says that before the end of January, he will push the FCC’s board to vote that only it could regulate VoIP service.
VoIP has the potential to provide the first real alternative to plain old telephone service (POTS) while also possibly creating compatibility difficulties for alarm and monitoring services.

Powell made his comments at the VON 2004 industry trade show in Boston on Oct. 19. “We cannot avoid this question any longer,” Powell said. “To hold that packets flying across national and indeed international digital networks should be subject to state-commission economic regulatory authority is to dumb down the Internet to match the limited vision of government officials. That would be a tragedy.”

The move for federal control of VoIP regulation could face resistance from the states, which stand to lose millions in potential revenue. Cherie Kiser, a Washington telecommunications lawyer, told the Boston Globe that “There’s no way that Chairman Powell’s going to totally oust the states.”

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