Today, the FCC is expected to issue a ruling that VoIP phone services, such as those offered by Vonage, should be free from State regulations. The key here is that States would not be able to levy taxes, fees or restrictions on the new technology.
William Wilhelm, partner in the legal firm Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman, LLP had this to say when asked to comment on today’s pending ruling.
“Currently it appears as if the FCC will hold that states are preempted from regulating Vonage based upon a finding that the service is "interstate in nature". As a result, the states will no longer be able to subject VoIP and Internet applications to a patchwork quilt of state utility regulations. The decision reaffirms the FCC's commitment to competition, innovation and an Internet free of inappropriate regulations.”
The ruling is expected to be a boon to the young VoIP industry, which while enjoying a measure of growth, still has some distance to go to maturity.
Neal Shact, CEO of CommuniTech and an expert on the VoIP industry said, “These regulatory rulings have far reaching consequences. The FCC is keenly aware of the issues of nurturing an emerging VoIP industry here and that over regulating it, with states issues, taxes and CALEA can easily push the industry overseas, beyond the reach of our government.”
I'm cautiously optimistic in advance of today's statements from the FCC, but to all eyes it appears that the FCC will tell the States to keep their hands off VoIP. TMC will have much more on the events going on at the FCC today. Stay tuned.