Powell: VOIP Regs 'Grave Mistake'
CHICAGO – Supercomm 2004 – The states that are quickly trying to regulate VOIP services are making a "grave mistake," said Michael Powell, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in his keynote speech here at Supercomm
"There are some dozen states taking an aggressive stance with VOIP, and they are making a grave mistake," said Powell, contending that regulatory agencies should show restraint when considering newer packet-based services.
"I don't really understand what the problem is," said Powell. "Is the problem that consumers are getting the services for a price less than the regulated price? Is it that they have control over their own services?"
To some extent, Powell said, regulatory bodies worry about problems that may not even exist. "Every really good lawyer can make up a speculative fear."
Powell said the tricky issue for the FCC is regulating an industry as it's in an awkward transition from a "single wire" to many access methods -- including broadband over power lines, DSL, WiFi, WiMax, cable modems, and fiber. He also noted that the architectural shift to IP technologies is unprecedented in the last 100 years of the industry.
"The FCC should do everything it can to stimulate new applications that will drive deployment," said Powell. "We have a responsibily not to draw capital off the industry and into law."
Powell said that, overall, he is optimistic about the future of the telecom industry, and he thinks its worst days are over.
"I think that the industry will be hot a year from now. We'll be on fire."
He said the largest contributor to this will be the acceleration of broadband deployments, which are just starting to become mainstream. "In the last year there's been a 24 percent jump in broadband deployment. We'll have dramatically more broadband adoption."
— R. Scott Raynovich, US Editor, Light Reading