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Senate Rejects State VoIP Regulation

WASHINGTON, DC -- In a crucial vote today, the Senate Commerce Committee rejected an attempt to restore significant state regulatory authority over Voice over IP services. Last week, the Committee had adopted, on a bipartisan 14-8 vote, an amendment from Sen. Sununu that codified FCC decisions holding that VoIP is an interstate service and limited state authority to consumer protection, child pornography, E911 and general state business law. Today, Sen. Dorgan offered an amendment to would have removed the Sununu provisions and opened VoIP up to a plethora of state regulation, including subsidy-laden intrastate access charges. Fortunately, the Committee rejected the Dorgan amendment by a 15-7 bipartisan vote.This vote is significant because it was just 2 years ago that this same Senate committee approved a similar Dorgan amendment by a slim margin. Today’s vote shows that the Senate has a growing appreciation for the value of VoIP and for the harm that overzealous state regulators could cause to a vibrant new broadband service.

Free eBook: “Net Neutrality and Fair Use: Where Service Providers Fit”

June 22, 2006 at 12:00 pm PST

BRUSSELS -- I thought any of you wanting a deeper dive on net neutrality issues would be interested in this eBook produced by xChange Magazine. While there are myriad articles on”net neutrality” from the content provider’s point of view (as well as most blogs’ points of view), there has been very little out there to tell the story of what service providers are expected to endure under the concept of net neutrality. You can access the eBook here.Another interesting article on the topic of net neutrality is from eWeek and reporter Wayne Rash. The American Consumer Institute announced that it is asking senators to leave any regulatory provisions out of their net neutrality legislation. Dr. Larry Darby, head of the Institute and former Chief Economist at the FCC, argues that passing net neutrality regulations as written would simply pass the network buildout costs to the consumer “while the companies that benefit the most, such as Google and Microsoft, would be given what is essentially a free ride.” Something that sounds eerily similar to a blog entry I wrote earlier this month. Great minds think alike? Check out the eWeek article, “Institute Slams Net Neutrality Legislation.”

Cisco’s Mike Volpi Op-Ed on Net Neutrality: “`Neutrality’ Regulations Could Stifle Evolution of High

June 21, 2006 at 12:00 pm PST

BRUSSELS -- Great op-ed by Mike (aka Michelangelo) Volpi in today’s San Jose Mercury News. Mike is our SVP in charge of our Routing and Service Provider Technology Group. You can check his bio out here. One of the smartest people I have met within or without Cisco, so IMHO his opinion on net neutrality issue should be listened to.Op-ed states in part: “The Net Neutrality debate comes down to this: content providers and aggregators want to regulate the Internet so that service providers cannot charge for different levels of service among their customers….Broadband service providers who build the networks believe that they should be able to manage the networks for efficiency, security and quality of service. Broadband providers believe that they should be able to place intelligence in the core of their network as well as the edge, or the part that reaches consumers. The debates between these two camps centers around whether Congress should to step in to create such regulation. They should not.Read the full op-ed here.

L.A. Times Editorial: “Subsidizing Yesterday’s Telephones”

June 20, 2006 at 12:00 pm PST

BRUSSELS -- Wanted to bring to your attention an interesting editorial in today’s Los Angeles Times. (Free registration required.) Editorial states that there is a movement afoot to charge VOIP providers the same fees that are being charged to traditional telephony. Editorial argues that voice on the Internet is just an application and shouldn’t be treated any differently from, say, e-mail. After all, people are already paying for their broadband in order to access VOIP services, it argues.Here is lead of article, but I recommend that you read it if interested in VOIP, telecom issues, universal service, and regulatory issues: “When monopolists call for a ‘level playing field,’ beware: Most often, what they really want is to hold back the competition. Such is the case in telephone service, as local phone monopolies are trying to saddle high-tech competitors with fees designed to subsidize the traditional phone network.”URL for article is: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-voip20jun20,0,1778996.story?coll=la-news-comment-editorials

France: Most Attractive Triple-Play Offer in OECD Countries

PARIS -- Recently the OECD published a report about broadband multiple play offers across OECD countries. (pdf document)Who would have guessed that a French ISP would be ranked as most attractive. In these days, when you refer to France, you tend to think more about The Da Vinci Code or about the images of protests broadcasted on CNN rather than about innovative broadband.However, over the last 2 years, France has multiplied its number of broadband subscribers by 5 to reach now 10 millions -which represent more than 15% of population and 40% of households.Download fileThe magic recipe for this acheivement: a regulation favoring network competition and a disruptive player on the market.The French regulator (ARCEP -www.arcep.fr) has favored a competition between networks rather than between services relying on a unique infrastructure. In France, the difficulty is that cable does not compete with copper networks like in the US. Therefore the regulator had to implement competition through physical unbundling of the copper over the last mile. The key decisions were adopted during summer 2002. By the end of 2002, the prices started decreasing as the competition heated up. Now there are more than 3 million unbundled lines.(http://www.arcep.fr/observatoire/blr/index-tabordavril06-ang.htm)But a pro-competitive regulation would not have been sufficient to achieve the results of today on its own. The development of a disruptive, aggressive and very innovative ISP called Free (www.free.fr) was decisive. Read More »