A North Carolina telecommunications company accused of deliberately blocking Internet phone traffic has reached a deal with federal regulators to halt the controversial practice.
The Federal Communications Commission said Thursday that Madison River Communication will "refrain from blocking" VoIP, or voice over Internet Protocol, calls and will pay a $15,000 fine to the government.
"We saw a problem, and we acted swiftly to ensure that Internet voice service remains a viable option for consumers," FCC Chairman Michael Powell said in a statement. The consent decree prevents Madison River from VoIP blocking for 30 months.
Based in Mebane, N.C., Madison River reported $194.4 million in revenue for the 2004 calendar year from 120,649 residential voice subscribers, 60,563 business voice subscribers, and 39,562 DSL customers. The company has filed a registration statement for a proposed initial public offering.
VoIP provider Vonage confirmed that Madison River was the broadband provider it complained to the FCC about earlier this month, leading to the FCC's investigation.
"We're very pleased that the commission took very swift action to address the concerns that we had regarding an Internet service provider's ability to block our customers' communications with each other," Vonage CEO Jeffrey Citron said. "This sends a clear message that port blocking will not be tolerated."
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