VoIP has been the subject of several FCC NPRMs (Notice of Proposed Rule Making). What is VoIP and why does it present a regulatory challenge?
VoIP, Voice over Internet Protocol, allows callers to make phone calls over the internet. It is the ability to carry phone calls over an IP data network. It allows you to make voice calls using broadband internet connection instead of a regular phone line. The present regulatory challenge comes from the fact that this technology was not addressed in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The internet is considered an “enhance service” , (which according to FCC is any service offered over common carrier with exception to DSL, Cable and powerlines – they are considered information services) therefore it is not regulated. Telephone companies are regulated and are required to pay the Universal Service Fund (USF) and the challenge now becomes should they be charged the USF because of the phone calls.