Regulation Watch

The FCC’s National Broadband Plan and Its Affect on VoIP

By William B. Wilhelm & Jeffrey R. Strenkowski

On March 16, 2010, after a 13-month study, the FCC (News - Alert) released “Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan,” containing policy recommendations for achieving national goals identified by Congress. The plan recommends six long-term goals, many of which will undoubtedly affect VoIP providers, their markets, and the regulation of their services. Some of those goals include:

  1. At least 100 million U.S. homes should have affordable access with actual download speeds of 100mbps and upload speeds of 50mbps.
  2. The U.S. should have the fastest, most extensive wireless network of any nation in the world.
  3. Every American should have affordable access to robust broadband services, and the means and skills to subscribe to them.
  4. Anchor institutions in every community should have affordable access to at least 1gbps broadband service.
  5. Every first responder should have access to a nationwide, wireless, interoperable broadband public safety network.
  6. Every American should be able to use broadband to track and manage their real-time energy consumption.

The plan also offers dozens of specific recommendations, which if implemented may significantly alter U.S. telecommunications regulation, including treatment of VoIP services.

The plan’s recommendations for the FCC are expected to result in more than 60 action items, many of which will include opening or revisiting fundamental regulatory proceedings including, among others, inter-carrier compensation, interconnection, and universal service. Other recommendation areas that may affect VoIP providers include service outage reporting, cybersecurity certification, next generation 911 and location accuracy, special access, data reporting, disability access, and other proceedings.

Additional information on the plan can be found on Bingham McCutchen’s Web site at IT

William B. Wilhelm (News - Alert) is a partner and Jeffrey R. Strenkowski is counsel at the global law firm of Bingham McCutchen LLP (