The US Federal Communications Commission must assert its regulatory authority over voice over IP as a matter of priority, FCC chairman Michael Powell said in an address at the VON Fall 2004 conference and exposition.
Comparing VoIP regulation to, among other things, the US Constitution, Powell said: The first step in getting policy pointed in the right direction is for the Commission to step forward and affirmatively establish jurisdiction over these services.
Powell said that he will, within a month, present his fellow commissioners with a proposal that will state the FCC should assert Federal authority over VoIP services, rather than leaving it to individual states to regulate.
We cannot avoid this question any longer, he said. To hold that packets flying across national and indeed international digital networks should be subject to state commission economic regulatory authority is to dumb down the internet to match the limited vision of government officials. That would be a tragedy.
In February, the FCC issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that stated, internet services should continue to be subject to minimal regulation. Powell, a Republican, is generally known as having a hands-off approach to the Internet.
The VoIP market has been heating up in recent months, with a handful of successful startups beefing up to fight off imminent competition from the big incumbent carriers and cable operators.