For over 100 years, the FCC has been governing and regulating telecommunications. From establishing central 911 systems, to governing what is legal and illegal activity handled upon telephone wires, the FCC has been setting federal rules and laws in place and keeping telephony working to the best advantage for all citizens.
Now, here comes VoIP to throw the FCC threw a loop. Because the very nature of VoIP is contradictory to the very nature of the PSTN (the public switched telephone network that we have all used and loved) VoIP has managed to slip through the FCC cracks and appear on the American market and subsequently in people's homes, before even being determined to be a state, local, or federal entity.
Up to now, state and local laws were handling VoIP issues, but with the onset of the issue of VoIP users not being able to access the emergency 911 systems database, the FCC has stepped up the quest to regulate VoIP and categorize as it should be- a telephone service.
Well, whether VoIP is another telephone service and should be treated and regarded as such is a question of debate, but one thing is for sure- VoIP has passed the government test of applications that are here to stay and therefore need to be regulated.
It is amazing to me that the FCC hadn't stepped in earlier to regulate VoIP, but I guess that is due to the amazing way VoIP slowly made its way into mainstream homes and began unplugging telephone wires in homes across the country.
Beginning on the Internet, it was quite phenomenal that people could use their Internet service to make long distance phone calls. Communications is changing the way people relate on a global level, and it seems that the future may lead to some sort of global governing body to regulate and monitor it- or maybe that will be saved for dictator's and fascist dreams, but up until now, people have enjoyed the unlimited freedom, not only in price but in communications that are allowed by the Internet.
VoIP has allowed residents of communist countries to express their opinions, freely, and openly, (some hidden so reigning rulers won't find out) but nonetheless, the Internet and VoIP gives new meaning to the words 'global free speech'.
In America, it seems only fitting that rules and regulations will beset the future of VoIP, after all, the telephony industry was under a monopoly for nearly 100 years, how could a new technology come and unplug all of the hard labor and work designed to set limits upon telecommunications.
Yet America is a nature of free thinking individuals, and Universities nationwide are creating telecommunication revolutionists before laws and rules can even be set. Truly the American government is playing catch up with a technology that is leading the way to a telecommunications rebirth.
For Americans, some of the main issues that need immediate resolution the FCC involves 911, the ability for law enforcements to trace and tap Internet Protocol conversations, and the decision of putting VoIP technology under Federal jurisdiction, rather than state or local.
Security issues have arisen regarding wireless VoIP, but that seems to be more of a matter for the technical guru's to solve rather than the federal government. Taxation is another issue where Uncle Sam has realized that he hasn't been making his fair share of the VoIP market, and we can rest assured lawsuits will continue to arise as telephone companies battle out the issue 'who own VoIP'.
One thing that is certain is that VoIP is not a technology that will simply be here today and gone tomorrow. The issues regarding VoIP are not limited to America alone, but are closely interwoven threads connecting global Internet users.
Like the file and peer to peer networks had a jumpstart birth, accelerated in growth, then reached maturity before being regulated by its parents (government systems), we can be sure that the future of VoIP will have an interesting history. Peer to peer networks are a global sharing system and decisions need to be made on a global scale, yet until then we will continue to see law suits set by those who see themselves as 'owning' all music and likewise, we will see law suits arise by those who feel that they own all telecommunication and telephone services
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