FCC Says States Don’t Have Jurisdiction on VoIP

WASHINGTON

A recent decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) indicates it plans to fight any efforts by state regulatory agencies to place regulations on voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) phone service. The FCC ruled Nov. 8 that VoIP is an interstate form of communication that is free from state jurisdiction and regulation.

The ruling was in favor of a request by VoIP provider Vonage that it should not have to comply with regulations imposed by it by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC), effectively giving the federal government full control over the regulation of VoIP. However, FCC Chairman Michael Powell said in the decision, released to the public Nov. 19, that the issue of state taxation of VoIP and other details still need to be worked out and will be announced in a decision by the FCC early next year.

VoIP, being offered as a viable alternative to plain old telephone service (POTS), is being watched by the alarm and security monitoring industries, as VoIP may have compatibility issues with alarm systems.

Minnesota, which had sought to require Vonage and other VoIP providers to provide 911 services, is appealing the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

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