TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Rep. Fred Upton apparently sold out to incumbent telcos

Rep. Fred Upton apparently sold out to incumbent telcos

Jack Decker (jack-yahoogroups@withheld)
Wed, 16 Mar 2005 21:09:52 -0500

A disturbing final paragraph in this article, which starts out telling
the oft-told story of how a Houston family apparently didn't
understand that their VoIP service doesn't come with 911 service
(probably didn't bother to read the numerous warnings most VoIP
companies give when you sign up), but then progresses to say this:

[Begin quote:]

Since then, the FCC has ruled that VoIP is an interstate service not
subject to state rules and regulations, and that companies providing
Internet telephony must comply with federal wiretap requirements. The
agency is still studying the 911 obligations of VoIP carriers and the
potential contributions carriers might be required to make to the
Universal Service Fund.

"VoIP is still in its infancy and the regulatory ground upon which
VoIP stands is not as firm as I think it needs to be in order that it
reaches its projected potential," Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman
of the subcommittee, said. "I would note that only seven individuals
-- five FCC commissioners and two federal district court judges --
stood in the way of VoIP potentially being regulated by 51 state
public utility commissions." [End quote from end of article at ]

The fortunate thing is that Rep. Upton's views are probably in the
minority, but I fear that the incumbent telco lobbyists are working
furiously behind the scenes to try and get VoIP hobbled by state
regulations. That would kill many of the smaller VoIP companies, and
maybe all of them that don't have a presence in every state. We do
NOT need regulation by state public utility regulators, and given the
way the Michigan Public Service Commission has f***ed up expanded
local calling, there is no way in hell I want them regulating VoIP.
As far as I am concerned, the FCC is absolutely on the right track in
exercising federal oversight of VoIP and pre-empting the states - it
would be a disaster to VoIP to be subjected to individual state

Those of you who live Rep. Upton's district in southwest Michigan
(basically the Kalamazoo area and southwest) might want to write him
or e-mail him and ask him to stop selling out to the incumbent
telcos. Let him know that you don't want additional regulation and
costs added to VoIP. His contact info is on this page:

The issue of 911 is important but it will not be resolved immediately
-- it took the cellular telephone industry a couple of decades to get
the kinks worked out (some cell phone companies still don't offer
"enhanced" 911), and since talks are already in progress between the
major VoIP companies and the organization representing 911 centers, I
am sure that most VoIP companies will offer 911 sooner rather than
later. The FCC can facilitate this by putting its blessing on one
nationwide scheme for VoIP connecting to 911, whereas if every state
commission tries to regulate this, a VoIP company located in Nerw
Jersey or California may be told they have to deal with over 50
different 911 connection mandates.

So I believe that Rep. Upton's comments have nothing to do with 911
and everything with who is pumping money into his election campaign.

According to
both SBC and Verizon were among his top contributors (SBC was his top
contributor, while Verizon tied for the #6 slot. Also, Comcast
Corp. and the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. both tied for
the #3 slot, and even when cable operators offer VoIP they often
register as CLEC's and have a local presence in each state, and
therefore might not oppose regulation that impedes independent VoIP,
which does not have facilities in every state in the union).

One other thing, I have been warning that attempts at individual state
regulation could backfire, since VoIP companies can move offshore and
out of reach of any U.S. regulation. For example, a VoIP company
located in Canada or England could probably still buy U.S. numbers for
incoming calls from CLEC's, and still complete calls to the U.S. at
wholesale rates about the same as what they are paying now. If you
don't think this is true, consider that when the instant messaging
program ICQ first started out, its servers were in Israel, and had the
U.S. attempted to impose excessive regulation or taxation on instant
messaging it's quite likely that the servers (and the company) would
have stayed there.

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