BellSouth’s Petition to co-opt VoIP?

Jeff Pulver things that a petition filed by BellSouth with the Federal Communications Commission could become a big nightmare for ISPs and independent VoIP providers, according a report. Pulver points out that with this petition, independents who don’t own their own telecom infrastructure could not stay in business.

“Essentially these are the rules that require us to sell pieces of our broadband network to other ISPs,” says Kevin Curtin, director of corporate communications at BellSouth. “We are talking about the Mindsprings rather than, say, Covad. With Covad it is more of a line-sharing issue.” BellSouth’s request is that the FCC suspend rules that require incumbent carriers to give access at regulated rates and allow “access to the platform through privately negotiated contracts,” says Curtin. “It would be a commercial negotiation with us and the ISP.” The other issue for BellSouth is that it must give access to its network while cable companies do not. Changing the rules to end DSL access would put telcos and cablecos “on a level playing field.”

This is a developing story, and could have as much impact on the future of VoIP as the SBC’s TipTop effort.

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