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Vonage In The News
Vonage Holdings Corp. Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2013 Results

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Vonage Pros and Cons for 2006



Vonage, a VT2142 and a RTP300, My Experiences - A Detailed Review
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Salt Lake City: impressions after several months




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Control over Net phone companies


Vonage In Print News

Judge: Feds, Not States, Should Govern Voip

July 20, 2004

By Ben Charny

State utility commissions can have very little control over Net phone companies, a New York federal judge wrote in an order that hands another victory to Vonage and similar upstarts.

State utility commissions will be able to work with Vonage to rectify customer complaints but won't be able to regulate or tax the company, according to U.S. District Judge Douglas Eaton.

Eaton's order, released within the past few days, strikes at the heart of a debate between federal regulators, which want to exercise a hands-off approach to voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to let the young industry grow, and states, which rely on tax revenues to pay for public programs.

The Federal Communications Commission, which in the process of drafting Net phone rules, will have the upper hand in how to approach Voip in New York, Eaton wrote.

"On balance, the Public Service Commission has not demonstrated state public interests, which require the immediate exercise of state common-carrier regulations," the judge wrote. But the New York state PSC can collect complaints from Net phone customers, refer the complaints to Net phone providers and even offer nonbinding arbitration as a way to settle any disputes, Eaton said.

Eaton is the second judge to dismiss attempts to force Net phone providers to follow state telephone rules and tax regimes. In Minnesota, a federal judge made a similar ruling in October. That ruling is under appeal.

Eaton's written order was promised three weeks after he said the New York Public Service Commission cannot force Net phone provider Vonage to apply for a telephone operator license. The ruling is in place until Dec. 13, when the two sides meet again to discuss the case with the judge.

Eaton's decision could foreshadow an important regulatory win for the Net phone industry, which typically sells unlimited dialing that's much cheaper, because calls use the Internet, where they aren't subject to the myriad of traditional phone rules, regulations and taxes.

With two state efforts to regulate Voip now derailed, the balance of power may have shifted to the FCC, which wants a limited state role and earlier this year issued a preliminary report on Net phone calling but left the details for further study.

"It's very good that New York is listening to the word from Washington," said Jeff Pulver, founder of free Net phone service FWD.

Groups such as the Multistate Tax Commission fear that as more calls flow onto the unregulated Internet, billions of dollars in state funding for programs--including 911 emergency services and the government's E-rate program--could be jeopardized.

Eaton's decision also highlights growing pressure to change rules that have molded the telephone industry from its formation to the present. Congress and the FCC have drawn a strict line between voice networks and data networks, but with the rise of VoIP, that distinction is collapsing.



 
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†AK and HI residents pay $29.95 shipping. ††Limited time offer. Valid for residents of the United States (&DC), 18 years or older, who open new accounts. Offer good while supplies last and only on new account activations. One kit per account/household. Offer cannot be combined with any other discounts, promotions or plans and is not applicable to past purchases. Good while supplies last. Allow up to 2 weeks for shipping. Other restrictions may apply.

1Unlimited calling and other services for all residential plans are based on normal residential, personal, non-commercial use. A combination of factors is used to determine abnormal use, including but not limited to: the number of unique numbers called, calls forwarded, minutes used and other factors. Subject to our Reasonable Use Policy and Terms of Service.

2Shipping and activation fees waived with 1-year agreement. An Early Termination Fee (with periodic pro-rated reductions) applies if service is terminated before the end of the first 12 months. Additional restrictions may apply. See Terms of Service for details.

HIGH SPEED INTERNET REQUIRED. †VALID FOR NEW LINES ONLY. RATES EXCLUDE INTERNET SERVICE, SURCHARGES, FEES AND TAXES. DEVICE MAY BE REFURBISHED. If you subscribe to plans with monthly minutes allotments, all call minutes placed from both from your home and registered ExtensionsTM phones will count toward your monthly minutes allotment. ExtensionsTM calls made from mobiles use airtime and may incur surcharges, depending on your mobile plan. Alarms, TTY and other systems may not be compatible. Vonage 911 service operates differently than traditional 911. See www.vonage.com/911 for details.

** Certain call types excluded.

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