FCC Says Some VoIP Services Won't Be Regulated - InformationWeek

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2/12/2004
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FCC Says Some VoIP Services Won't Be Regulated

Computer-to-computer phones calls are different from phone company services and don't require the same form of regulations, the commission says.

The Federal Communications Commission decided Thursday that some voice-over-IP providers do not offer the same sort of service as conventional telephone companies and as a result don't need to be regulated in the same way that phone companies are regulated.

Commissioners voted 4 to 1 to grant VoIP company Pulver.com Inc. immunity from standard telephony taxes and regulations, ruling that the company's peer-to-peer communication system has more in common with E-mail and file-sharing applications than it does with regular phone service.

The decision only applies to Pulver, and the FCC is still considering the larger picture of VoIP regulation. The commission also voted Thursday to open a proceeding to consider how other forms of VoIP services should be regulated and invited public comment.

Pulver offers computer-to-computer voice communications services that do not connect to the phone network or regular telephones.

"The FCC obviously recognizes there are many flavors of VoIP, and a one-size-fits-all approach just won't work, so they are taking a more-measured, more-incremental, staged approach," independent telecom analyst Jeff Kagan said via E-mail. "Basically they are laying the groundwork for a philosophy that says if it's a pure-play Internet call, then it will be treated like an E-mail without regulation and fees and taxes."

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