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FCC Urged To Act Quickly On VoIP

CHICAGO -- Voice over IP proponents on Tuesday urged the Federal Communications Commission to act quickly to establish national policy guidelines for the technology, in order to head off potential regulatory roadblocks that are surfacing at the state level.

At a panel here at the Supercomm 2004 show, state regulators as well as VoIP service providers implored the FCC to take the lead on VoIP policy issues, before individual states could muck up the process.

"We desperately need the FCC to step in and take the bullets for us," said Susan Kennedy, a commissioner with the California Public Utilities Commission. Though Kennedy is a VoIP proponent, the California PUC is one of several state bodies whose own internal conflicts over VoIP regulation are leaving potential VoIP customers, investors and providers in a state of uncertainty.

Without the clarity of a national policy, VoIP's momentum could be stalled by the separate state efforts, proponents said.

"Clearly, there is a need for a national framework," said Jeffrey Citron, CEO of leading VoIP provider Vonage, who said the regulatory uncertainty surrounding VoIP often gives a pause to investors and potential users of the technology. Such delays, he said, could stall the economic recovery being spurred by VoIP providers and their suppliers, as well as the ongoing venture capital investments in VoIP startups.

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