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Sununu Calls For New Telecom Bill In 2005

BOSTON -- Senator John Sununu is ready to reload his legislation aimed at simplifying the regulation of Voice over IP, as part of a larger telecom reform bill that he said is planned for next year's new session of Congress.

In his keynote speech Monday at the VON (Voice on the Net) show here, Sununu, R-N.H., said that he and other congressional leaders, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, are already planning to tackle the thorny issues of telecom regulation with an omnibus-type bill, as soon as this fall's national elections are over.

"We are going to begin writing a new bill in 2005," said Sununu, who earlier this year submitted a bill that sought to streamline potential regulatory restrictions on VoIP, only to watch it get amended to death
in the Senate's commerce committee. While admitting that the opposition interests "are pretty well entrenched," Sununu asserted that telecom reform -- especially on the contentious issues of Universal Service Fund contributions and intercarrier compensation -- is needed sooner, not later.

"This is not something we can spend 10 or 20 years on," Sununu said, speaking of the unrestful situation in telecom regulation that is only being accelerated by disruptive technologies like VoIP. "This [situation] is real today," Sununu said. "There are challenges, but they can and will be overcome in the next two years."

In addition to Stevens and McCain, Sununu said other supporters of new telecom reform regulation include Democratic senators Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Maria Cantwell of Washington. "We've built a good bipartisan base," Sununu said. However, there is also resistance from both sides of the aisle to moving quickly on telecom reform. Commerce committee members Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Conrad Burns, R-Mont., both authored amendments that reversed the intention of Sununu's original bill, which Sununu has tabled for the time being.

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