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Cyber-Rights: Internet telephony before the FCC


Internet telephony before the FCC

More and more people are using software products to send their voices over the Internet - a kind of product called Internet telephone. An organization of telephone companies named ACTA petitioned the FCC to stop or regulate these products. Opposing views include a letter from the Clinton Administration to the FCC, a declaration from CPSR, a comment from CPT, and a statement by a consortium of Internet telephone companies. FCC Chairperson Reed Hunt announced in September 1996 that they would not regulate the Internet.

In a report to Congress, though, the FCC admitted that a certain narrow range of Internet services could be considered telecommunications: companies providing gateways that people use to make long-distance phone calls from ordinary telephone headsets over the Internet. While the FCC took no regulatory action, the Bellsouth local phone company took the law in its own hands and announced in September 1998 that it would start placing access charges on these services. US West, another local company, followed quickly.

Outside of North America, and especially in countries that still have monopoly long-distance telephone companies, Internet telephony is even more popular as a way around extremely high charges. In India, as reported by a CPSR activist, the telephone company has blocked access to Internet telephony providers.

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Last updated: June 9, 2000

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