June 22, 2006
Well, we knew it was inevitable
that the FCC would pass on USF (Universal Service Charges) taxes onto VoIP service providers and thereby unto VoIP subscribers. I griped about this
pending tax just recently. Well, the FCC voted unanimously yesterday to require all voice over Internet Protocol services that connect to the public-switched telephone network (PSTN) to contribute to the Universal Service Fund. ZDNet has an excellent overview
of this news, as does TMCnet's Robert Liu
. Although the ZDNet article says peer-to-peer VoIP companies such as Skype are excluded. I'm not sure why Skype would be excluded when they too terminate to the PSTN
via SkypeOut. How does that make Skype any different than Vonage?
I'll have to check out the ruling in a minute. Maybe software-based VoIP solutions get some sort of special exemption even though they too terminate to the PSTN? I doubt it though. More likely ZDNet misread the ruling and Skype also
needs to apply the tax for anyone using SkypeOut terminating to the U.S PSTN network.
Good luck collecting that tax money from Skype, Mr. FCC! For one, Skype isn't a U.S.-based company, and second, need I remind you that Mr. Zennstrom, Skype's CEO is still wanted in the U.S.
(especially by the RIAA) for his role in Kazaa, the p2p file-sharing network? Catch him and tax him "if you can", Mr. FCC...
For a laugh, check out the Family Guy's take on the FCC:
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