Summary:

ð A lot of rumbling coming out of these meetings today so allow us to boil it down for you.ð The VoIP topics were essentially the following: 911, wiretapping, disabled access, USF, access charges, and taxation.ð ð Suffice it to say that the first three issues […]

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A lot of rumbling coming out of these meetings today so allow us to boil it down for you.ð The VoIP topics were essentially the following: 911, wiretapping, disabled access, USF, access charges, and taxation.ð

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Suffice it to say that the first three issues do not really appear to be deal breakers for VoIP since the industry leaders are already working on such solutions.ð This leaves USF, access charges, and taxation as bones of contention.ð

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Regulators and tax officials need to be careful with these remaining topics.ð Regulators don’t want the current system to collapse since VoIP’s differentiated technological nature could undermine the very underpinnings that make the system work such as USF subsidies and access charges.ð Tax officials want to get their arms around the juicy new revenue streams, but if they act hastily, they could choke the new innovation into failure, ending with little to nothing in the governmental coffers.ð Keeping all this in mind, this is how we see everything shaking out in the near term.ð

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First, the FCC will conduct more information gathering on the embryonic technology.ð Second, they will act relatively quickly on setting up some interim rules since cable companies like Time Warner are looking to be quite quick on the VoIP rollout.ð Third, these interim rules will be lenient so not to prevent the new technology from blossoming; however, they will likely stick to similar USF subsidy requirements since most cable systems are in metro areas.ð Thanks to AT&T and MCI, access charges have become a highly questionable practice.ð As such, the FCC will likely revisit the charging framework and modify it for more equitable and transparent allocation that will include VoIP as a telephony conduit.ð

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Take away: much grumbling on VoIP today based on yesterday’s FCC forum.ð We believe most of the key issues are already being addressed and the others will be shortly.ð We believe VoIP is here to stay since it is pro-competition and is a more efficient communication conduit.ð That said, we believe the FCC will still institute some regulation, albeit lenient in the short term.ð

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