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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The Senate Looks at VoIP
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The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing this morning on VoIP. [It is that link above the very important "Seafood Processor Quota Hearing." Finally, the Senate will address that smelt overfishing epidemic!]

The statements are here: Senator McCain, Senator Alexander, Chairman Powell, Jeff Citron of Vonage, Glenn Britt of Time Warner Cable, Glenn Post of CenturyTel, Stan Wise of the Georgia PSC, and Kevin Werbach of Supernova Group.

All witnesses have high praise and hopes for VoIP. But the consensus breaks down there. Not surprisingly, no one is for "unnecessary regulation" (which usually has a burgeoning constituency). Senator Alexander, Glenn Post and Stan Wise give voice to the "regulate it more" position. By contrast, Senator McCain, Chairman Powell, Jeff Citron, Glenn Britt and Kevin Werbach argue that VoIP should be left relatively unregulated. My sympathies lie with the latter group.

VoIP does bring the defects of the current intercarrier compensation system to the fore, however, and these are difficult issues to resolve. It would be a colossal mistake to drag a new technology into the old regulatory paradigm, but the legitimate reliance interests on the old intercarrier compensation model cannot simply be ignored. It will be a signal exercise in regulatory prudence to work it out. Good luck, Mr. Chairman.

posted by Ray Gifford @ 2:50 PM | General

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