Florida Commissioner Chuck Davidson has the right instincts on state utility commissions regulating VoIP, and looks oh-so-cyberliciously cool in the New York Times story and accompanying photo: "Mr. Davidson wants the federal and state governments to let Internet-based phone service blossom, free from regulation, taxes and surcharges."
In related news, the Colorado Commission recently closed a docket inquiring into the "metaphysics of VoIP," to borrow a well-coined phrase. The concurring opinion by Chairman Sopkin gets it exactly right:
"In my view, we should treat VoIP not as a problem, but a new opportunity for regulators to look at changing how the use of wireline infrastructure is compensated - through subsidies, intercarrier charges, and regulated rates. These traditional regulatory devices distort the market and cause inefficiency, lack of competition, and net consumer harm. Instead of trying to impose anachronistic rules on new innovative technologies, we should reform anti-free-market state regulations to allow traditional companies to compete with new entrants on a more level playing field. This serves yet another purpose: new entrants will not have much incentive to avoid playing by the rules if the rules are less costly. If we do nothing, it is only a matter of time before a great exodus from traditional telephone service occurs, endangering the existing telephone network"
Read the whole thing.