Whats Next for VoIP Regulation

Things have been heating up between the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the VoIP industry lately.

It’s undeniable that the government installation has taken a more active interest in the future of the industry. For example, earlier this year AT&T; stated that under the state-based American Legislative Exchange Council’s model Internet is defined as an “informative service,” not a telecommunications service; therefore, the FCC has little right to regulate VoIP service.

Additionally, the provider also looked to abolish more regulation. In doing so the FCC was met with tremendous backlash—which has furthered the FCC’s interest in regulation. And yet, despite all inner conflict, the FCC looks primed to implement new regulatory policies.

The world is abuzz as FCC Commission Chairman, Julius Genachowski, a key figure in monitoring and regulating the technology industry, recently announced his resignation. Additionally, Commissioner Robert McDowell has also announced his planned departure. McDowell has been a formidable presence against the government’s involvement with the internet.

Now, with these imminent departures on the horizon, the FCC’s role looks likely to change. With this shift in personnel comes rabid speculation — i.e. who fill these men’s shoes, and what effect will these departures have on regulatory practices and policies.

The next regime within the FCC will be forced to deal with a number of rising issues, including the decline of traditional phone service, the pros and cons of VoIP regulation, making broadband universal service, the standardizing of services, and user/provider/government concerns. As PSTN services fade and VoIP continues to expand, regulation becomes more an eventuality than a possibility.

The FCC, users, consumers, and service providers undoubtedly have their concerns—i.e. would increased regulation ultimately yield positive or negative effects? Would the industry’s size and growth be stunted, or would increased regulation be better for users?

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