Cisco: FCC Should Keep VoIP Free Of Regulation

For a recap of the FCC's VoIP forum, Networking Pipeline caught up with Jeff Campbell, director of worldwide government affairs at Cisco Systems, to get his take on the event

December 8, 2003

2 Min Read
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Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) formally kicked off a process that will eventually decide how Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) should be regulated, if at all. For a recap of the two-day forum, Networking Pipeline caught up with Jeff Campbell, director of worldwide government affairs at Cisco Systems, to get his take on the event, as well as Cisco's position on VoIP regulation.

Networking Pipeline: Since this is a phone interview, it would only be appropriate to conduct it using VoIP...

Jeff Campbell: Well, we are from this end, since Cisco uses IP phones.

Networking Pipeline: Since you were there, can you quickly summarize the forum?

Campbell: It was a formal beginning to an FCC process to address the [regulation] issues. Most of the big questions were raised, and I think it's safe to say the FCC will, in the relatively near future, talk about rule-making. But it's just the start of the process, and it may take as long as a year to complete.Networking Pipeline: Was there a point to holding this forum now?

Campbell: Getting the commissioners together sends a message to the state regulators that the FCC is on top of this issue. Chairman [Michael] Powell also likes to have all the commissioners together, learning together, on technology topics.

Networking Pipeline: Since Cisco has already stated that it thinks VoIP shouldn't be regulated, was the company happy with the Forum discussions?

Campbell: The big thing that was evident was that the commission has an interest in the technology, and in seeing it grow and prosper. There were a lot of sub-issues raised, most of which dealt with the technology's impact on the current communications world. But the bigger question was making sure the technology could grow [Editor's note: meaning, "keep your regulatory paws offa my VoIP!"]. The sub-issues included universal service and how VoIP will handle things like emergency services and law enforcement issues.

Networking Pipeline: Are the sub-issues really just a smokescreen for RBOC resistance, since VoIP could eat into their cash-cow voice services?Campbell: We [at Cisco] believe that most, if not all communications, will move to IP, over time. ILECs, for example, are very interested in VoIP technology -- they and other providers, like cable companies, clearly see the cost efficiencies IP can bring to their networks, as well as the ability to support more services. I think the RBOCs also understand the benefits, but have additional questions, such as how will the technology be integrated into the current network, and who's going to pay to connect calls between networks.

Additional Links:

FCC VoIP Forum Website

Cisco internal story on VoIP

Vonage internal coverage of ForumDavid Strom: Vonage Provides A Great Alternative To Regular Phones

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