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Sununu To File 'Hands-Off' VoIP Legislation

U. S. Senator John Sununu (R-NH) is preparing legislation to keep federal and state regulators from interfering with the development of VoIP.

"I am preparing legislation to preserve the free regulatory framework that has allowed VoIP applications to reach mainstream consumers," said Sununu in a statement. "VoIP providers should be free from state regulation, free from the complexity of FCC regulations, free to develop new solutions to address social needs, and free to amaze consumers."

Sununu's announcement comes in the wake of comments by FCC Chairman Michael Powell that he, too, favors a deregulatory approach to VoIP. Last week, the California Public Utilities Commission -- once insistent that VoIP should be regulated by the state -- backed off from its earlier stand, deciding to wait for national legislative and judicial developments before moving on the issue.

There have been rapid-fire developments in recent months to roll out VoIP, with most major telephone and cable companies, as well as a number of start-ups, jockeying to get into the market. Verizon Communications announced last week that it could spend as much as $2 billion -- much of it based on a contract to Nortel Networks -- on VoIP if the Web-based phone service takes off. VoIP is still suffering from some minor reliability problems.

Senator Sununu, a member of the Senate's Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said that "a clear preemptive remedy is needed now: Congress must establish preeminence of federal authority in this area and provide major direction for any action by the Federal Communications Commission."