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California Cities Attempt VoIP Tax In Advance of FCC Ban

I've just received an e-mail from a source at VoicePulse, one of the major broadband IP service providers. It furnishes specific perspective on Ben Charney's piece in CNET News.
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Written by Russell Shaw, Contributor on

I've just received an e-mail from a source at VoicePulse, one of the major broadband IP service providers. It furnishes specific perspective on Ben Charney's piece in CNET News.

The source says that in anticipation of today's FCC ruling clamping down on state efforts toregulate VoIP services,his companylast Friday "received letters from various cities in California attempting to impose telephony regulations on us just before the FCC is set to rule on whether federal regulations will preempt state and local regulations."

I have just read one of these letters. Burbank, the Southern California city that wrote the request to the VoIP provider based their case on the accessibility of VoIP to the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). The letter went on to saythatinthe city's view, PSTN availability proves that VoIP is a public service rather than a private, "computer-to-computer" service - and is taxable according to city statute.

The companyposition, explained the spokesperson,is that the letters illustrate "the potential havoc that could be wreaked on VoIP startups if they are subject to the regulation of 50 different regulatory bodies (states), much less deal with every city in the country that wants to impose their own set of rules and regulations on the service."

At this hour, though, it appears thatsuch companieswon't have all that much to worry about.

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