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FCC chief calls for 'light' Net phone rules

Government will take a "hands-off" approach to regulating Voice over Internet Protocol technology, FCC chief Michael Powell said Monday at a U.S. wireless industry conference.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell called Monday for a "light regulatory touch" on Voice over Internet Protocol technology.

"I think the government will take a hands-off approach to it," he said, speaking to a crowd of several thousand wireless industry professionals at the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association's annual meeting.

The FCC in December kicked off a yearlong public dialogue on Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, giving the public an opportunity to air opinions about appropriate regulations for the emerging technology, that allows phone calls to be made over the Internet.

VoIP has thus far avoided regulations and taxes which generally apply to telecommunications companies.

Companies such as Vonage Holdings Corp., of Edison , N.J, a privately held company offering phone service through VoIP, have been vocal about keeping regulations at bay, arguing that government control would hamper development and innovation.

VoIP is the most disruptive technology to come along in a while, Powell said.

But he said the technology's full potential is best realized when it is seen as an Internet application, not merely as a voice application. The chairman also said he saw VoIP as complementary to wireless technology.