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Re: The %^? did it!
You can learn more about the FCC's approach to IP Telephony, access charges, and the Upton Access Charge Legislation at www.cybertelecom.org The legal history behind all this goes back over 30 years and involves the FCC's Computer Inquiry proceedings. In about 1980, in the Computer II proceeding, the FCC distinquished between basic telecom service and enhanced services. Basic services, to put it simply, is where the message travels over the network transparent to the network - there is no interaction between the message and the network. With enhanced services, there is some level of interaction between the message and the network - it "employs computer processing applications that act on the format, content, protocol or similar aspects of the subscriber's transmitted information." Basic service is regulated as telephone service under title II of the Communications Act; Enhanced services are "unregulated" by the FCC. If you think of the IP stack, basic service is the physical transport layer and maybe layer 2. Enhanced services is the TCP/IP layer and above. This means that applications such as IP telephony currently fall under the category of enhanced services and are "unregulated." When the FCC was dealing with the breakup of the ATT monopoly, the question was, what would the lucrative long distance carriers pay to the expensive local loops to maintain the infrastructure. The answer was metered access charges. In this 1980s proceeding, the FCC also considered Enhanced Services Providers and decided that they would be exempt from the metered access charge. That exemption has been reaffirmed several times over the years. So, under current FCC policy, ISPs do not pay this metered access charge. The policy was based in party on the competitive, innovative, and nascent nature of the enhanced service provider market - well remember that one of those nascent enhanced service providers is in the midst of trying to buy Time Warner. As far as definitions go, the FCC has put forward a definition of IP telephony. Sec. 255 requires that telecommunications service providers and manufacturers make their equipment accessible to the disabled. In the recent 255 proceeding, the FCC affirmed that 255 does not apply to enhanced services (does not apply to ISPs). However, last fall the FCC released a Notice of Inquiry to ask what is the impact of IP telephony on the disabled community, how is industry responding, and what is the proper roll of the federal government. First, I would note that while the comment period in that proceeding is closed, you can still express your views in that proceeding pursuant to the FCC's ex parte rules (you simply have to file a summary of your comments with the FCC's secretary for inclusion in the record). I might also note that only 7 Internet parties filed comments in that proceeding the last time I checked. More info again at www.cybertelecom.org In the 255 proceeding, the FCC defined IP Telephony as follows: "Internet Protocol telephony ("Internet" or "IP" telephony) services enable real-time voice transmission using the Internet Protocol (IP), a packet-switched communications protocol. The services can be provided in two basic ways: computer-to-computer IP telephony conducted through special software and hardware at an end user's premises; or phone-to-phone IP telephony conducted through "gateways" that enable applications originating and/or terminating on the public switched network. Phone-to-phone IP telephony is provided through computer gateways that allow end users to make and receive calls using their traditional telephones. Gateways translate the circuit-switched voice signal into IP packets, and vice versa, and perform associated signalling, control, and address translation functions. The voice communications can then be transmitted along with other data on the "public" Internet, or can be routed through intranets or other private data networks for improved performance." --In the matter of the Implementation of Sections 255 and 251(a)(2) of the Communications Act of 1934, as Enacted by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, WT Docket No. 96-198, Report And Order and Further Notice Of Inquiry, 177 (September 29, 1999). A final note - The Upton Access Charge Legislation was largely passed in response to Congressman's Schnell's proposed legislation 602P to tax e-mail or tax Internet access. Of course, there is no Congressman Schnell; there is no legislation 602P; there is no such format for legislation as 602P; and there is no proposal before the US congress to tax e-mail (there is one before the UN I believe) or access. -B www.cybertelecom.org My views alone. Mine! Mine! Mine! ______________________________________________ FREE Personalized Email at Mail.com Sign up at http://www.mail.com/?sr=signup