At lunch time, I went on a little research trip across the Net trying to find out what happened in Minnesota during the state’s PUC vs. Vonage Holdings, Corp. ( news- alert) hearing in court today. The state’s Public Utilities Commission was scheduled to appeal a decision made a year ago by a Minnesota judge who declared Vonage’s services not liable for fixed phone line calling regulations at state level.
Naturally, I visited the state PUC Web site first, and tried to download information about the issue quickly finding out that my efforts failed, as the files didn’t appear to exist anymore. I just figured someone took them down after the acclaimed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announcement last week, and the state of Minnesota just didn’t go ahead with the hearing—an act that seemed rational, since many companies in our industry think the whole thing is just a waste of time and valuable resources.
Well, even if I could not access the information (thanks to a Web site glitch or whatnot), the hearing came and went just as planned, as reported in various news sites on the net. It turns out, that after the Saint Paul 8 th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals heard both sides’ arguments, the panel let both parties leave without an answer. Reports announced that that the panel would have 90 days to decide if Minnesota’s PUC gets to order Vonage to be liable for any state-level taxes and regulation.
Many of us are still confused about the reasons why this hearing took place even after the FCC announced its decision to rule in favor of Vonage and other Voice over IP (VoIP) (define - news - alert - tutorial)-enabled communications providers, declaring the services “inter-state” -- making them exempt from most taxes and regulations at state-level last week.
So, ladies and gentlemen, there you have it ! I’m not really sure if anyone will be losing sleep during the next 90 days awaiting another Minnesota judicial decision. I will certainly keep you posted on the issue as it unravels.
|Johanne Torres is contributing editor for TMCnet.com and Internet Telephony magazine. Previously, she was
assistant editor for EContent magazine in Connecticut. She
can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.