Policy

Britt: Time Warner Cable Supports VoIP Rules

2/24/2004 8:45 AM Eastern

Time Warner Cable supports quick adoption of regulations that would establish the rules of the road for providers of voice over Internet protocol.

In Senate testimony Tuesday, chairman and CEO Glenn Britt called on lawmakers and regulators to agree on rules that would remove uncertainties that might cause VoIP providers to postpone deployment.

"As voice-over-IP services are introduced, there is a need for a regulatory structure that encourages and promotes investment in this new technology," Britt told the Senate Commerce Committee. "We think the time for doing that is now."

As a voice service over the Internet and IP-based networks, VoIP is perplexing to lawmakers and regulators, who aren't sure whether it's a telecommunications service or an information service.

The distinction is critical because information-service providers pay nothing directly to subsidize phone service in expensive-to-serve rural America. Without financial support, phone rates in rural states could soar.

"I am very concerned about equality for rural consumers," Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) said, adding that it was "critically important" that VoIP providers contribute revenue to the multibillion-dollar subsidy program called universal service.

Dorgan, who had to leave the hearing, did not hear Britt explain that when his MSO offers VoIP, it has volunteered to pay into universal service, to provide Enhanced 911 service and to assist law enforcement in tracking criminals using Internet-based voice services to plot their activities.

Britt said he would support making those efforts compulsory.

"We think we should retain requirements that pertain to these very important social policies," he added.

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