The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has vowed to keep VoIP telephony unregulated.
Speaking during a question and answer session at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Michael Powell predicted that VoIP will remain a major topic with the FCC this year. "There will be another 50 more VoIP issues, I guarantee you," he warned.
The US telecoms regulator last year denied several attempts by landline telephony companies to level the playing field between regulated traditional services and VoIP by imposing the same restrictions on the internet phone service as land providers are facing.
Regulations in the landline US telephony market are, much like in most European countries, the result of issues with monopolist telecoms providers. Subjecting VoIP providers to the same regulations would effectively limit their ability to compete against those monopolists.
"You should for once be proud of the FCC," said Powell. "This technology was really nascent, the providence of peer-to-peer geeks. We saw it coming. It is the thing I'm most proud of to watch this commission move forward instead of backward."
He conceded that a practical problem with subjecting VoIP providers to the FCC's control comes from the near impossibility of properly grading the companies. "We never know what bucket to put you in," said Powell.
Cable television, telephone and internet providers as well as mobile operators are all moving in on each other's turf.
This makes it impossible to tell which rules and regulations apply to a provider offering television over the internet, according to Powell.
Powell exposed a lighter side to the debate in an interview at the CES show in Las Vegas.
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