New Hampshire Senator Readies "Hands-Off IP" Bill - InformationWeek

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New Hampshire Senator Readies "Hands-Off IP" Bill

Sen. John Sununu says he wants to keep federal and state regulators from interfering with the technology's development.

Sen. John Sununu is preparing legislation to keep federal and state regulators from interfering with the development of voice over IP.

"I am preparing legislation to preserve the free regulatory framework that has allowed VoIP applications to reach mainstream consumers," Sununu, R-N.H., said 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. California's Public Utilities Commission--once insistent that voice over IP should be regulated by the state--backed off from its earlier stand last week, 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 voice over IP, with most major telephone and cable companies and a number of startups jockeying to get into the market. Verizon Communications said last week that it could spend as much as $2 billion--much of it based on a contract with Nortel Networks--on voice over IP if the Web-phone service takes off. Voice over IP still suffers from some minor reliability problems.

Sununu, a member of the Senate 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."

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