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Sununu's VoIP bill as amended turns out to be a bust... even Jeff Pulver (speaking for the Voice over the Net Coalition 'VON) this morning announced they would now vote against it if given the chance. Basically I feel the amendments cancel each other out, or create a stalemate, whichever you prefer. There is hope that the similar bill proposed in the House, with Sununu's help, could make some headway this fall and recapture some of the ground lost to the the rural carriers.
But the conversation continues.... at the FCC this morning (July 30) there was a roundtable discussing VoIP from an international perspective. Very interesting and informative... if you think our regulators have problems you should hear the gentleman representing telecom in Latin America. VoIP is actually illegal in some LAmerican countries and users are fined heavily if caught. The incumbent telecoms, often govt owned or at least propped up by same, are heavily protected and VoIP is viewed as a direct challenge to their control. The exception is Chile; they will be passing their first VoIP 'friendly' regs in the next few weeks. Mexico actually receives the most VoIP calls of all countries outside the US (I imagine all the Mexican nationals phoning home from the US using international phone cards that are primarily IP based).
Another interesting fact from Mary Brown of Cisco. They think of VoIP in three stages: 1. Long haul has made the transition to VoIP with few exceptions 2. Corporate is in transition 3. Residential is a distant third.
Summary of major barriers to VoIP that were mentioned: penetration rate of broadband; regulatory uncertainty (we are simply trying for Federal jurisdiction... international players are fighting different regimes); cost and control of access to local networks (intercarrier charges on an international scale);lack of communication between government and the industry; and the numbering system.
Major strategy theme: Let the market work and only regulate where absolutely necessary. Facilitate industry cooperation on peering (carrying each other's traffic) and standards.
How to maintain local networks during the transition to IP is a worldwide problem; but arbitrage is the mother of invention.