TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Industry Officials Debate Policies For Internet Telephony

Industry Officials Debate Policies For Internet Telephony

Jack Decker (jack-yahoogroups@withheld)
Mon, 14 Mar 2005 12:46:55 -0500

Industry Officials Debate Policies For Internet Telephony
March 9, 2005
By Drew Clark

A regional Bell telephone company, a rural carrier, a cable company
and an Internet phone company disagreed Wednesday about the
obligations and prices that communications companies must pay when
they offer Internet telephony to rural America.

Speaking at a telecommunications forum hosted by a task force of the
Congressional Rural Caucus, Vonage CEO Jeffrey Citron said subsidies
between long-distance and local telephone service must be eliminated.

Kevin Hess, vice president of federal affairs for the rural firm TDS
Telecom, disagreed and said the current inter-carrier subsidization
systems "remain the appropriate mechanism of compensation." Hess also
said voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) providers like Vonage must
contribute equally to the universal service fund (USF), which is
designed to finance phone service to all Americans.

Reps. Charles (Chip) Pickering, R-Miss., and Rick Boucher, D-Va., also
addressed the task force, and each outlined their bills to pre-empt
state regulation of Internet-based services. Pickering's bill is
focused on VoIP; Boucher's deals with all Internet services.


Both Citron and Boucher said USF should be revised to permit monies
for broadband networks. Currently, the $6 billion fund subsidizes only
traditional phone networks.

"I personally think that broadband should be part of that equation,"
Boucher said, adding that "the time may come in the not-too-distant
future in which USF can be greatly restricted in scope, and perhaps
eliminated altogether."

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