Monday, December 15, 2003
VoIP + regulation = same old same old
In previous writings, e.g., see Scenario #4 here, I've drawn a dystopic scenario for the future of telecom where the ILECS use their strongest remaining core competency -- regulation, legislation, and litigation -- to make technological progress "illegal". Implicitly, I included too-cumbersome and too-expensive under "illegal". SMART Person Matt Lucas, below, reminds me that this should be EX-plicit.
One of the hallmarks of the "telephony-classic" model is regulation. Taxation. Government revenue generation. You have noted the symbiotic yet dysfunctional relationship between telcos and government. One of the allures of IP and the public Internet is the freedom from regulation and taxation (to date).Thanks, Matt! You sound almost like a (moderate) Republican FCC Commissioner.
There is a scenario in which the FCC or state PUCs decide that VoIP should be regulated and taxed like current "telephony-classic". In this scenario, government intervention renders VoIP impractical by artificially inflating its costs. We could end up with the same business models and entrenched providers even though we're using the Internet.
We know who benefits most from maintaining the telco-government symbiosis status quo. Government regulators, in order to exist, must have "something" to regulate. Chaos (or freedom) demands more government intervention than stability and order.
I'm not a far-right anti-government, conspiracy-manic militia member. Far from it. This is a left-leaning citizen suggesting that, in order to keep your assessments "fair and balanced" (or at least within reach of lip service), consider the rising specter of a national $1T (yes that's a T) deficit, near ubiquitous statewide financial crises ($38B in the hole here in CA), and the revenue generation capabilities the current telephony-classic model provides.
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