Just got an e-mail from Chris Wilkins, who sits on the Telecomm Commission in Burnsville, Mn. This fast-growing suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul has 65,000 residents, and all the fiscal challenges of 'burbs with fast-growing infrastructures.
Chris explains why local as well as state officials in Minnesota are none too pleased with the FCC'srecent rulingreserving the right to regulate VoIP at the federal level, and court findings prohibiting the state from imposing fees on Vonage.
"I sit on the Telecomm commission for Burnsville, MN. The real issue is not so much as to wether VoIP should be regulated as much as it is about holding the Cable companies to the same standards the phone companies are held to. A phone line goes to your house through a cable in the ground in the easment between your neighbors house and yours. The telephone company pays a fee to have access to this property so they can maintain their equipment and make money charging for their service.
"The cable companies pay the same fee for cable t.v. hookups. However, if a cable company like Comcast uses the same piece of coax to put a data line to your house in the same easement and offers you the ability to make a phone call with it, they don't have to pay the fee. This is because the FCC says its a data service and not a voice service.
"If a cable company like Comcast uses their existing t.v. coax to send you data and offers you the ability to make a phone call with it," he continues, they are not su bject to the same regulations(as) the phone company. Because they arenot subject to the same rules and regulations as the phone companies, they areable to provide the same service for less cost. That would be great if consumers saw the difference, but they don't always. That's why we here in Minnesota are trying to rope them in and level the playing field."
Rope 'em in or hang 'em high? I'm open to discussion. Let's hear from more regulators.