Tuesday, July 25, 2006

VoIP Providers Get Theirs from the FCC

"More and more it appears as if VoIP service providers are being treated by the FCC like traditional telecommunications carriers; they now are subject to federal Enhanced 911 requirements, federal wiretapping and electronic surveillance obligations (under the federal Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA), and now these USF payment obligations. Still, the FCC has yet to formally define VoIP as a telecommunications service under the Communications Act. While this has spared VoIP service providers from some legal burdens such as state certification and tariff obligations, it also means that VoIP service providers will be denied some of the benefits of that regulated status (including the ability to qualify for USF payment subsidies and to obtain certain local network elements at wholesale rates) while increasingly being asked to shoulder various regulatory burdens. In addition to determining whether you're an interconnected VoIP or not, VoIP service providers will need to identify interstate revenue for USF reporting purposes. There are federal and state USF programs, but the FCC has jurisdiction only over interstate and international revenue. The process of identifying and then calculating interstate VoIP revenue may prove to be far more difficult than the FCC's recent order would admit."

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