FCC Fights for VoIP

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FCC Fights for VoIP

I have been a critic of the FCC because of my concern about broadband competition. One important reason for this concern was that without broadband competition, service providers are in a position to “tinker” with VoIP packets. They can stop them, slow them, disrupt them, etc. At the last ITEXPO in Miami, many other people in the industry shared the same concern.

Beyond the VoIP issue, broadband competition is necessary for a variety of reasons. But rather than going down the broadband path, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Chairman Powell for his swift actions yesterday.

Madison River Communications LLC blocked ports needed to transmit VoIP and the FCC reacted like a cheetah and slapped a $15,000 fine on the company. This is huge news as my crystal ball for VoIP growth shows a continuing upward trend but the cloud of service providers slowing or stopping VoIP traffic was a major concern of mine that I have written about often.

What the FCC has just done proves that it cares about this problem and more importantly it will take action to ensure VoIP packets can flow as freely as any other packet.

So are we out of the woods yet? Perhaps but I am still concerned about broadband providers slowing packets or dropping every fifth packet, etc. As we learned when ILECS had to compete with CLECs, the ILECS can do some very creative things that are in the gray areas of the law to hurt the CLECs. The same can be done to VoIP providers and I suspect these gray areas will be explored soon. Proving it will become a challenge for our industry.

Still, this is a massive step in the right direction and it shows that the FCC is really concerned about VoIP being available to our entire population. Thanks Mr. Powell.


If you enjoy footnotes and government-speak, you may want a look at the following two documents. As usual Michael Powell’s press release sums of the situation nicely for the layperson.

Madison River Communications, LLC Order and Consent Decree Order
Madison River Communications, LLC Order and Consent Decree
Chairman Powell Commends Swift Action to Protect Internet Voice Services

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