Classification of VoIP Services in the United States

This summary addresses the issue of whether VoIP is subject to common carrier obligations as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act or whether VoIP is largely free from federal regulation as an information service under Title I. The United States Congress has passed several regulatory acts to prevent states from exercising regulatory authority over new Internet services, thereby giving the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) jurisdiction over Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) services. Pursuant to such expanded authority over VoIP services, the FCC it has issued several declaratory rulings on VoIP services and has made several reports on the classification of different varieties of VoIP services to Congress. The most important regulatory issue is whether the FCC should classify VoIP as an "information service," a "telecommunications service" or as a hybrid of the two categories.

The following questions have been addressed in this article:

What regulations are applicable to VoIP if it is classified as telecommunications service?
What regulations are applicable to VoIP if it is classified as information service?
What challenges are faced by FCC in classifying VoIP services?

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