Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pulver on the FCC USF for VoIP Order

Jeff Pulver summarizes the seriousness of the recent FCC USF for VoIP order and asks that more people in our community get involved with the legislative and regulatory issues that are being (poorly) decided in the U.S. today. Jeff is one of the most informed and active participants in the U.S. regulatory processes surrounding IP communications and his post today is well worth a read. If you had any doubts that this new FCC order is Very Bad Thing for VoIP, I think Jeff will quickly convince you otherwise. And he doesn’t pull any punches:

At first review, the Order appears to be a laughable, legally suspect, misapplication of the state of the law and prior rulings and an unsubstantiated gross mischaracterization of the opinions of the VoIP community and VON in particular.

For some particulars, check out this scary summary Jeff has initally pulled out of the 150-page document:

Overall the order:

• Is not limited to calls that touch the PSTN - includes IP to IP calls (pg 20)
• circumvents the Vonage decision to allow state regulation of VoIP, if you report actual revenues (pg 29)
• requires pre-approval of traffic studies - but not for wireless providers because pre-approval would be disruptive to wireless, but not VoIP (pg 30)
• requires double payments of USF fees for 2 quarters - waiving the “carrier’s carrier” rule so that wholesale providers also have to pay USF for the same service (pg 30)
• Includes new VoIP registration requirement with the FCC
• does not include a transition period
• indicates a desire to expand the definition of Interconnected VoIP in the future (pg 20)
• includes international traffic• ignores Small Business Administration arguments (pg 121)
• Does not discuss this decision’s impact on VoIP providers, but finds it will have minimal impact on LECs (pg 13)
• requires VoIP providers to pay into USF at the highest rate of any service
• buried deep in footnote 209, relieves DSL of USF obligations

But Jeff doesn’t want us to just take his word for it, he suggests that we should all give this important document a thorough read. And I’d also like to echo Jeff’s suggestion that now is the time to get more involved with the legislative processes around VoIP here in the U.S., and supporting the VON Coalition is one good way to do this.


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