Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Think Tank Tells MO to Back Off

Dick Armey's IPI think tank wants Missouri to lay off VoIP providers. They believe Voice-over-IP is an industry changing technology and any overbearing regulation could impede its growth and economic benefits.

Testifying before the Missouri state legislature, they had this to say.
"Missouri must show bold leadership, not by being the first state to attempt to tax and regulate an exciting new technology, but rather by reining in the regulators," said Giovanetti.

But what might seem like strong support for open technologies like VoIP, it is really nothing more than a veiled attempt to urge further deregulation of local telephone monopolies. The same monopolies that have already squashed broadband competition, creating a duopoly with the local cable company, and are well on their way to doing the same to smaller independent VoIP providers.

"We ought to be praising and rewarding the facilities-based providers who are doing the favor of building out a critical broadband infrastructure using their own risk capital," said Bartlett Cleland, Director of the IPI Center for Technology Freedom.

If Missouri wants to be competitive in the communications market and to entice new and technologically advanced infrastructure, the state should relax regulation rather than increase it.

VoIP makes use of existing broadband infrastructure to the end user and providers often only peer with aggrigate exchange carriers to offload VoIP calls to local PSTN (i.e. landline) phone lines. Their own network needs are fairly small when compared to similar businesses like local Internet providers and web hosts.

While we definitely oppose any taxes on VoIP or other Internet services, when a market is so dominated by a handful of companies that are colluding to divide up markets and shutout smaller competitors, regulation is the only thing consumers have to insure a truly competitive market free of ever increasing costs such as those seen year-after-year by local cable companies like Time Warner and Comcast and telcos like AT&T.

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