Michigan PSC Issues Order on VoIP

The order is at this URL (PDF file):

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The most significant part of the order is this: "The Commission requests the Legislature to amend the Michigan Telecommunications Act so as to specifically empower the Commission to assess the effect of Voice over Internet Protocol service on Michigan's citizens, to adopt non-intrusive registration and certification mechanisms by which customer complaints regarding voice communication services may be forwarded to the appropriate companies, and to ensure that all citizens of this state have the benefit of enhanced 9-1-1 services."

In other words the Commission would like the our legislators to pass a law (as part of this year's revision of the Michigan Telecommunications Act) that would let them require VoIP providers to be licensed and, to some degree, regulated by the Commission. The problem with that is that the Federal Communications Commission has already ruled that VoIP will be regulated at the federal level, so what the MPSC is in effect asking the legislature to do is put Michigan into the position of being in a "turf war" with the federal government. If the legislators are smart they will not take this bait, at least not without taking a good hard look at what limitations are placed on the states by the federal ruling.

Note that the comments filed in this case were made approximately one year ago, and things are changing in the VoIP industry on almost a daily basis. As I posted earlier today, there are reports out that the FCC will soon require VoIP companies to offer some type of 911 access. So these issues will get worked out at the federal level, and there is no good reason the state should attempt to impose licensing or regulation requirements beyond the normal consumer protection regulations that apply to all businesses.

How to Distribute VoIP Throughout a Home:

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If you live in Michigan, subscribe to the MI-Telecom group:
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Jack Decker
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