What Does VoIP Regulation Mean To You?

If youve been wondering what the impact of the FCCs deliberations on VoIP will mean to your business, this is the session you must attend. My hope is that the dialogue among the various representatives of VoIP providers and vendors will allow us to tease out the business-related aspects of the regulatory issues, says VoIP Policy Update session leader Rick Whitt, vice president of federal law and policy for MCI.

Whitt says 911 is a good example of the regulations that could be imposed on VoIP. The question is, are VoIP providers going to be required to abide by the existing technical requirements that local exchange carriers and CLECs are required to abide by when they provide local services? Thats potentially a huge issue for some VoIP providers, he explains.

This session of CompTel/ASCENT featuring scheduled speakers Bill Weber, vice president of government and external affairs, Covad Communications; Paul Kouroupas, vice president of regulatory affairs at Global Crossing; Staci Pies, vice president of government and regulatory affairs at PointOne; and Cindy Schonhaut, director of federal regulatory affairs at Level 3 Communications Inc. also will look at regulatory proposals under consideration such as the FCCs notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding VoIP. The NPRM itself is comprehensive enough to include all of the issues related to VoIP, Whitt says. Most of the NPRM items as far as we can discern will not be dealt with until next year. So, even though…the NPRM has the most comprehensive list of items, most likely its not going to have any near-term impact, whereas the 911 and CALEA issues both seem to be more pressing.

Whitt says the CALEA (Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act) proceedings are particularly important since the FCC complied with the FBIs request for comment on whether CALEA applies to information service providers. He says the panel will examine what kinds of electronic surveillance obligations should be imposed on ISPs when they provide services like VoIP, if the FCC determines CALEA is applicable to them. Similar to the situation with 911, in the CALEA context most VoIP providers would have a difficult time complying with all of the mandates and technical standards that are required for common carriers under CALEA, Whitt says. If there is an obligation, how can VoIP providers meet that obligation in a way thats technically and economically viable for them?

Whitt also wants to examine the long-term implications of VoIP and possible policy changes. He expects to discuss ways to avoid reliance on cable companies and the Bells underlying broadband networks.

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