Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

Playing the Metaphysical Card

Okay, this isn't about the metaphysics of VoIP, but the metaphysics of something as unhip as plain ol' prepaid calling cards. (Forget that. What do I know about unhip?) Recall my original definition of "metaphysics" as "of or relating to the transcendent or to the reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses" or "highly absract and absruse".

The May 25 edition of Communications Daily [subscription required] reports that the Universal Service Administrative Co. is investigating whether AT&T has "saved" $140 million in USF contributions by classifying its prepaid calling cards as an "information" service not subject to the contribution requirement rather than a "telecommunications" service which is. So, Communications Daily reports that, according to AT&T: "The cards are considered 'enhanced' because they're sold to retail outlets which brand them and add advertising messages..."

Read that again slowly. And then tell me that the current regulatory regime that distinguishes between "information" and "telecom" services based on whether there has been a change in "the form or content" of the information as sent and received doesn't need to be reformed to comport with the realities of today's communications marketplace. Under the current regime, maybe everything turns on how the calling card is branded...

posted by Randolph May @ 4:08 PM | General