James Crowe Comments on Withdrawal of Level 3 VoIP Forbearance Petition

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James Crowe Comments on Withdrawal of Level 3 VoIP Forbearance Petition

According to TMCNet, Level3 has withdrawn its petition to the FCC.

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According to James Q. Crowe, chief executive, "Today, Level 3 withdrew a forbearance petition the company had filed in December 2003 with the Federal Communications Commission seeking to clarify the regulatory status of Voice over IP.

"In the petition, we asked the FCC to reaffirm that legacy interconnection fees called 'access charges' do not apply to a certain class of VoIP traffic. By statute, the agency was required to issue a decision in the matter by March 22, 2005.

"Level 3 has withdrawn the petition in deference to the Commission. Given the appointment of new leadership only three business days before the statutory deadline for ruling on the petition, we determined it was inappropriate to ask the agency to resolve this important issue in the timeframe required by law. However, there remains a pressing need in the industry for clarity in this area, and Level 3 may elect to refile the petition or take other appropriate regulatory actions in the future.

"Our decision to withdraw the petition was made in consultation with industry participants that share our views, including the VON Coalition and CompTel/Ascent.

"Level 3 is committed to offering the industry's broadest suite of wholesale VoIP services, and our decision, which in effect maintains the regulatory status quo, will not have any material financial impact on the company. Level 3 and other VoIP service providers continue to maintain that voice calls between the legacy telephone network and the Internet should be exchanged using reciprocal compensation rates, which are lower than access charges and far closer to the network provider's true cost.

"We believe that VoIP stands to deliver enormous benefits to business and residential end-users, and will help drive broadband adoption nationwide. In our view, and in the view of many of the companies who supported this petition, creating regulatory clarity is the best way for the government to encourage investment in this promising new technology.

"The Commission's record is one of strong support for Voice over IP, and we're confident it will resolve these important issues in an appropriate and timely manner. There are number of other avenues by which the Commission can address the issue of VoIP and intercarrier compensation, and our hope is that it does so quickly in order to provide the industry with clear ground rules. We look forward to continuing to work with the FCC as it formulates policies that will foster VoIP's continued development."

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