"Powell singled out voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) as a "killer app
for legal policy change" because it pits two different regulatory models
against each other and forces governments to choose which will prevail.
The two models: a highly-regulated "common carrier" environment of cable TV
and telephone service, and the lightly-regulated world of the Internet."
FCC Chairman Michael Powell
Key politicians already have said the
As with any new technology regulation or lack there-of can tip the balance
toward incumbent providers or provide an advantage to new business models.
The discussion is still underway in most of the world. Some key elements
to directions include the FCC's decision in favor of Jeff Pulver's proposition
that a SIP service provider in the sense of FWD should not be considered
a telecommunications carrier under existing regulations. ( see FCC site below
for details. ) In Canada the CRTC has maintained a hands off approach to most
internet services up to very recently. Indications are that they are now leaning
towards regulation of voice communication irrespective of the technology used
Are we moving from a geographically local to a corporate local calling paradigm?
Some services have begun offing free monthly service with
a low long distance fee to PSTN locations & free calling to voip subscribers
of the same service.
The current market positioning of many voip service providers shifts the paradigm
of free local calls and per minute chargers on long distance calls to free calls
to voip within the customer base of the service provide and per minute charges
for everywhere else. Flat rate calling for large areas would help to reduce the
local calling problem, as would voip peering between service providers.
With the corporate ghettoization of voip we stand to lose the
universality of telecommunications that we have
come to expect.
Voice On the Net (VON) Coalition:
"Member supported coalition of service and software providers and equipment
manufacturers organized to advocate and educate policy makers and regulators
the viewpoint that the IP Telephony industry should remain as free of
governmental regulation as possible."
IP MoU: Internet Protocol Memorandum
"The IP-MoU is an international consortium of IP-based service and application providers
intent on quickly realizing the promise of interconnecting ubiquitous IP communications.
The IP-MoU will adopt and implement common principles designed to promote three primary objectives:
1. Promote the interoperability, interconnection and ubiquity of IP-based service and applications.
2. Establish processes to ensure that IP-based services and applications comply with local, national and international
laws and social objectives.
3. Ensure that consumers worldwide are assured basic rights as users of IP communications.
ITSPA: Internet Telephony Service Providers Association:
The organisation is lobbying Ofcom, the DTI and other government bodies to ensure that VoIP gets
a fair chance to succeed in the UK."
Voice over IP resource for the UK.
"Representing providers of Internet services. Promoting competition,
self-regulation and the development of the Internet industry."
ITC: MIT Program on Internet & Telecom Convergence:
"ITC is a program at MIT's Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development (CTPID).
True to the notion of convergence, the policy and strategy issues which typify the
Internet cut across academic disciplines and conventional organizational boundaries.
To address this complexity, ITC staff and affiliated researchers are drawn from
multiple disciplines, among them computer science, economics, law, engineering,
marketing, business strategy and the social sciences. We collaborate with our
industry partners in identifying issues and devising research that helps to
understand and resolve these issues."
ITU: International Telecommunication Union:
"Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland is an international organization within the
United Nations System where governments and the private sector coordinate global telecom networks and services"
TRP: The Telecommunications Research Project:
"The Telecommunications Research Project is a social science centre
researching the economics of telecommunications and information technology,
and policy and regulatory issues associated with national information
infrastructure development, with an emphasis upon the south-east and east Asian region."
WDR:The World Dialogue on Regulation for Network Economies:
"The World Dialogue on Regulation for Network Economies (WDR) is a flagship project initiated by infoDev, Global Information and Technologies Department, World Bank.
Foundation partners also include the LIRNE.NET Universities
(Technical University of Denmark and Delft University of Technology, NL),
and The International Tel?ecommunication Union, Telecommunication Devel?opment Bureau (ITU/BDT).
The WDR mission is to facilitate an international dialogue that generates and
disseminates new know?ledge on frontier issues in regulation and governance
to support the development of network economies. Your comments are invited."
Intelecon: Regulatory News:
"Intelecon brings you the latest regulatory news impacting
emerging markets and developing countries, updated frequently throughout the week."
European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI):
"The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) is an independent, non-profit organization, whose
mission is to produce telecommunications standards for today and for the future.É officially responsible for
standardization of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) within Europe."
Based in Sophia Antipolis, France
Balancing Act 223: Voip South Africa:
"Balancing Act's News Update covers connectivity developments in Africa and this week goes out to 7469
subscribers in government, the private sector, civil society and education."
Based in Africa. Available in french and english.
Voice over Internet Protocol in the Local Exchange Market: Regulatory Headache or Opportunity?:
An April 22, 2004 paper
by Joël-David Dalibard , a member of the editorial board at the Law Journal at McGill University.
"The regulatory headache created by Virtual VoIP providers is tied to the fact they can easily be neither
ILECs nor CLECs and are therefore not subject to the obligations that are imposed upon those carriers.
The only equipment used by Virtual VoIP providers clearly falls into the category of exempt transmission apparatuses.
Therefore, virtual VoIP providers are not Canadian carriers.É The CRTC must not be hurried into deregulation,
but should continue to protect CLECs and virtual VoIP providers until they have had an opportunity to strengthen their position.
In spite of the regulatory problems that need to be faced today, the final effect may be to help the Commission accomplish its
ultimate objective of making itself irrelevant in a fully competitive telecommunications market."
Canadian Bill C-74 Proposed 2005:
Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act, better known as lawful access.
"telephone and Internet service providers will be required to
include an interception capability as they introduce new technologies."
The Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA):
"This document creates an Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA)
registry for the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and SIPS Uniform
Resource Identifier (URI) parameters, and their values. It also
lists the already existing parameters to be used as initial values
for that registry."
FCC: US Federal Communications Commission:
"Internet Voice, also known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP),
is a technology that allows you to make telephone calls using a broadband
Internet connection instead of a regular (or analog) phone line.
Some services using VoIP may only allow you to call other people
using the same service, but others may allow you to call anyone who has a telephone
number - including local, long distance, mobile, and international numbers.
Also, while some services only work over your computer or a special VoIP phone,
other services allow you to use a traditional phone through an adaptor."
FCC: VONAGE Not Subject to Patchwork of State Regulations Governing Telephone Companies: (pdf)
"The decision adds to the regulatory certainty the Commission began building with orders adopted earlier
this year regarding Voice over Internet Protocol by making clear that this Commission, not the state
commissions, has the responsibility and obligation to decide whether certain regulations apply to
IP-enabled services. The Commission has the power to preempt state regulations that thwart or impede
federal authority over interstate communications."
FCC: Powell Statement: (pdf)
"If we let competition and innovation rage, unencumbered by the high cost of
regulation, Consumers can expect more of the same-lower prices, more choice, and
more innovative offerings."
FCC: Copps Statement: (pdf)
"We need a framework for all carriers and all services, not a stream of incremental decisions based on the needs of individual companies. "
FCC: Adelstein Statement: (pdf)
"Where this Order falls short is its failure to account in a meaningful way for essential policy issues, including universal
service, public safety, law enforcement, consumer privacy, disabilities access, and intercarrier compensation, and the effect of
our preemption here.
If this Commission is to ensure that innovative services are widely available and also achieve the important public policy goals
that Congress has articulated, the Commission must begin to wrestle in earnest with difficult issues that are largely ignored this Order.
We simply cannot afford to slow roll these issues. "
FCC: US VoIP CALEA Rules:
"The FCC's actions, on which it is seeking industry comment, are intended to advance legal and policy proposals
with respect to CALEA with an emphasis on the applicability of CALEA to VoIP services and broadband Internet access.
CALEA was intended to preserve the ability of law enforcement agenciesÊto conduct electronic surveillance by
requiring that "telecommunications carriers" and manufacturers of such equipment modify and design their equipment,
facilities, and services to ensure that they have the required surveillance capabilities."
Commentary by by Thomas K. Crowe, Esq Aug 9 2004
US Senate: VOIP Regulatory Freedom Act of 2004:
"The purpose of this Act is to prevent the imposition of harmful obligations or a patchwork of
multiple and discriminatory regulations on the providers of applications that utilize the
Internet protocol or any successor protocol to offer 2-way or multidirectional voice communications."
Search Bill Number SB2281 a significantly altered version passed July 23 2004.
Wired News Commentary
CRTC: Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission:
"In the Commission's preliminary view, voice communications services using IP that
provide universal access to and/ or from the Public Switched Telephone Network and utilize
telephone numbers that conform to the North American Numbering Plan (referred to in the PN
as VoIP services) have characteristics that are functionally the same as circuit-switched
voice telecommunications services. Consistent with its principle of technological neutrality,
it is the Commission's preliminary view that its existing regulatory framework should apply
to VoIP services, including its determinations related to forbearance."
News Release: May 12,2005 CRTC decides on limited regulation for VoIP telephone services to foster competition
Decision: May 12,2005 Regulatory framework for voice communication services using Internet Protocol.
Telecom Decision CRTC 2005-28 Reference: 8663-C12-200402892.
Emergency service obligations for local VoIP service providers:
Telecom Decision CRTC 2005-21
Regulatory framework for voice communication services using Internet Protocol:
Telecom Public Notice CRTC 2004-2
Regulating Local Telecommunications in a Time of Disruptive Technology
Current Correspondence Regarding CRTC 2004-2
PN 2004-2 Amended Procedures ( April 22nd 2004 ):
" Accordingly, the process set out in paragraphs 33 - 41 of PN 2004-2 is
hereby revised as follows to incorporate an extension of time for filing
comments as well as an interrogatory process:"
A eureka moment at the CRTC
" 38. Any persons who wish merely to file written comments in this proceeding
without receiving copies of the various submissions may do so by submitting
their comments in writing to the Commission by 18 June 2004."
"Telus stressed that a distinction should be made between a VoIP service that is sold by a telco as part of their high-speed Internet service, versus what it calls an "access-independent" VoIP service, which is essentially a software application that can ride over any high-speed connection from any service provider from Canada or around the world.
Telus, by offering an access-independent VoIP service, argued that it would be on "equal footing" with Vonage or Primus"
It will be interesting to see if in moving beyond geographic locality, we can also move beyond corporate locality.
While free calling between VoIP customers of the same company is currently used as a marketing gimmick such corporate locality
presents a serious, if temporary, risk to universal accessibility.
RegTP: Regulierungsbehoerde für Telekommunikation und Post:
RegTP - The German Regulatory Authority for Telecommunications and Post is now being considering IP Communications.
"Telecoms regulator RegTP has ruled that internet telephony local call numbers can only be allocated to
subscribers within their local networks.É The regulator is providing (0)700 numbers for locality-independent
personal call numbers. It is also considering providing a separate sub-range for VoIP service national subscriber numbers."
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Ofcom: British Office of Communications:
"Ofcom is the regulator for the UK communications industries, with responsibilities across television,
radio, telecommunications and wireless communications services."
Numbering arrangements for Voice over Broadband services
Ofcom to encourage the development of new voice services
06|Sept|04 "Set out the telephone numbering available for new voice services, allowing providers to: -
Offer their customers geographic phone numbers (beginning with 01 or 02), making it easier to switch from a
traditional service to a VoB service, for example, without having to change telephone number.
- Offer their customers a non-geographic phone number beginning with a new code, 056, which would not
be linked to any location and could be used anywhere in the country.
- Begun a public consultation on the appropriate level of consumer protection measures which should
apply to new voice services. Traditional fixed-line telephony services comply with regulatory conditions
stipulating near-guaranteed access to essential services such as 999. The consultation asks to what extent
these requirements would be proportionate and appropriate in the case of internet-based voice services
and how consumers should be informed of the new servicesÕ capabilities. The consultation will close on Monday 15 November 2004."
Ofta: Office of the Telecommunications Authority Hong Kong
"A government department responsible for regulating the telecommunications sector in Hong Kong."
Regulation Evolving With Market and Technology (pdf pp 4-9 Sept 7, 2004)
"Basically, we consider that the choice between the conventional telephone service and the IP telephony service
should be left to the consumers. If there is any technical or operational limitation in the IP telephony service,
the consumers should be given adequate information in order to make an informed choice. Regulation should not obstruct
the introduction of new technologies. We should apply the minimum and proportionate regulation to IP telephony.
In Hong Kong we have been adopting the "technology-neutrality" principle in regulation. That is the service
is licensed rather than technology. The operators may deploy any technology to run the service authorized under their
licences without seeking approval from the regulator. Like services should be regulated under like conditions."
ACA: Australian Communications Authority
"The ACA licenses telecommunications carriers, ensures compliance with carrier licence conditions
and service provider rules, and monitors service performance and quality. The ACA also administers
legislative provisions relating to powers and immunities of carriers in the construction of telecommunications
facilities, and protection of consumers through safeguards and service guarantees.
The Universal Service Obligation is administered by the ACA to ensure reasonable and
equitable access across Australia to standard telecommunications services. The ACA also
manages the National Numbering Plan and information programs on key issues affecting consumers. "
Vision 20/20: Future Scenarios for the Communications Industry - Implications for Regulations
(rtf section 188.8.131.52 p 23 "Transition to broadband connectivity" August 2004)
Regulation of VoIP in Australia appear cross the authority of several organizations including:
Australian Communications Authority (ACA)
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA)
"The fundamental increase in complexity and the need to understand the world differently may be
the most difficult regulatory challenge for the communications sector. "