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Re: VoIP Port Blocking Draws Congressional Interest
On Tue, 8 Mar 2005, Fergie (Paul Ferguson) wrote:
Some of the broad language in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 already does this, in my opinion. Some of the language is loose enough:
`(45) NETWORK ELEMENT- The term `network element' means a facility or equipment used in the provision of a telecommunications service. Such term also includes features, functions, and capabilities that are provided by means of such facility or equipment, including subscriber numbers, databases, signaling systems, and information sufficient for billing and collection or used in the transmission, routing, or other provision of a telecommunications service.
I alluded a bit to this yesterday, about the arguable classification of any network as local loop, so long as it's transiting VOIP traffic. I don't think there's really much argument against the notion that VOIP is in fact a telecommunications service, in even the loosest sense of the term.
Following in that, IF an ISP is classified as a carrier because of this broad distinction, they're subject to, at a minimum:
`SEC. 251. INTERCONNECTION.
`(a) GENERAL DUTY OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS CARRIERS- Each
telecommunications carrier has the duty--
`(1) to interconnect directly or indirectly with the
facilities and equipment of other telecommunications carriers;
`(2) not to install network features, functions, or
capabilities that do not comply with the guidelines and
standards established pursuant to section 255 or 256.
And in big shiny plain text:
`SEC. 256. COORDINATION FOR INTERCONNECTIVITY.
`(a) PURPOSE- It is the purpose of this section--
`(1) to promote nondiscriminatory accessibility by the
broadest number of users and vendors of communications products
and services to public telecommunications networks used to
provide telecommunications service through--
`(A) coordinated public telecommunications network
planning and design by telecommunications carriers and
other providers of telecommunications service; and
`(B) public telecommunications network interconnectivity,
and interconnectivity of devices with such networks used to
provide telecommunications service; and
`(2) to ensure the ability of users and information providers
to seamlessly and transparently transmit and receive
information between and across telecommunications networks.
Now that this is on Congressional radar, I don't think Vonage, or any other VOIP provider, is going to be able to hold out much longer as an unregulated entity. It's entirely possible that ISPs, by extension, may be swept into this by association, as call termination providers. It's also possible that an entirely new set of fees, taxes, levies, and general political financial rapaciousness will now be imposed on internet traffic and providers.