FCC Chairman Michael Powell
Powell told an audience at an industry conference that letting states regulate VoIP would lead to conflicting regulations and stifle competition. In my opinion, the spaghetti of telecom regulation rules helped the traditional carriers hold a tight grip on the telecom industry for decades. So I agree with Powell and I feel that regulating VoIP today would no doubt require a future VoIP Telecom Act equivalent to the Telecommunications Deregulation Act of 1996 if we permit regulations to “infest” the VoIP industry.
Powell told reporters that he will introduce a proposal to the FCC in less than a month for a vote, and even before the new Congress begins its session in January. This could be the most important vote this year --- after the presidential election of course! He also stated, "We cannot avoid this question any longer," he said. "It is very likely that treatment of VOIP will have some of the farthest reaching consequences of anything this commission has done or will do." Wow, depending on what happens, this could be one of the biggest decisions to impact the VoIP industry.
"There's one thing the government has a first and profound responsibility to do - protect its citizens from harm. That's not an economic question," Powell said. "It is very likely that VoIP will have far reaching consequences of anything the commission has done or will do. We must get this right." He referred to VoIP technology stating "[VoIP] has ignited a fire under a stalled and depressed industry.”
Powell cited a study by The Yankee Group, that projects 1 million VoIP subscribers nationwide by year's end, compared with just 131,000 last year. I think his numbers or actually The Yankee Group’s numbers are way off. The numbers are much higher than that in my opinion.
It should be interesting to see what decision is made regarding VoIP at the FCC in the next month or so.