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Johanne Torres[October 6, 2004]

ITEXPO Fall 2004: VoIP Experts Debate Regulation


Since I wrote my first articles on VoIP regulation, and received such interest and feedback from our readers, I have begun a little research project reporting on the endless discussions about the topic. Today, we gathered a panel of experts involved in state and federal regulation of VoIP. The session took place at the Tiffany room of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel during the second day of Internet Telephony Conference and EXPO.

Ron Videlfrom from Level 3 started out the session by pointing out the differences between 130-year old PSTN and 30 year-old Internet. He noted that there is a very big difference between these two worlds. “Internet was designed for everything but voice,” he said. “There is also a very stark contrast between the two in everything from consumer behavior, to consumer way of paying—pay-per-minute vs. pay-per-month,” he added.

Jack Zinman from SBC Communications continued the discussion by stating that “IP-enabled services are more than just voice apps, is more like a group of different services running through IP.” He then established the overall desire of having VoIP services treated differently from legacy services. “We are in fact asking the FCC to forbear VoIP as a whole from Title II Common carrier regulations.” Zinman also discussed universal services, disability access and CALEA issues.

William Wihelm, Jr. from Swindler, Berlin, Sheriff & Friedman continued the debate on VoIP treated as voice or as Internet. “We have to determine the jurisdiction of the calls, unlike PSTN, with the Internet, we cannot tell where calls are being terminated,” said Wihelm. “The rules that were determined for PSTN were created because there was a monopoly in place.”

E911 continues to be a very important issue, currently there are companies that usually deal with mobile apps are working on a temporary solution for determining the location of the caller. The solution could lie on IP to IP data connection. Wihelm and other panel experts think that VoIP services don’t need to be regulated like telecom services.

Johanne Torres is the contributing editor for TMCnet.com and Internet Telephony magazine. Previously, she was the assistant editor for EContent magazine in Connecticut. She can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]

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