Monday, December 13, 2004 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

"A Wave of Abject Fear..."

California PUC Commissioner Susan P. Kennedy recently noted that VoIP scares people. To wit: regulators fear the loss of jurisdiction; legislators fear the loss of funding for Universal Service; incumbents fear the loss of access charges; and, "rural carriers fear everything - but they especially fear loss of subsidies."

As is said in the blogosphere, read the speech. Kennedy provides clear examples of the consumer harming distortions created by the current regulatory system. She also uses a turn of phrase like a rapier. For example, after describing VoIP's relationship to the line between telecom and information services, the line between local and long-distance and the line between inter and intrastate, she slices through the fog with a sentence like, "the only lines that exist today are those that are drawn by and for regulators to facilitate the status quo." (Emphasis in original.)

Kennedy rightly calls attention to the most important communications debate of the decade: VoIP. She says the "regulatory treatment of VoIP and IP-enabled services is the line separating the past from the future. It's the line between fear of change and faith in innovation."

It reminds me of another speech by a Kennedy. He said, "Let us begin anew--remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate." These words are worth remembering when Commissioner Kennedy is attacked for recommendations to address "some of these issues on the federal level."

posted by @ 4:17 PM | VoIP