The FCC has released it's final order regarding the application of the Universal Service Fee (USF) to VoIP. VoIP News reports that the order includes a surprising definition of what VoIP services are included. According to the order, this fee could be applied to services such as Skype, Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk, Windows Live Messenger -- basically any VoIP service, even for PC-to-PC calling.
Originally, the FCC definition of VoIP services was limited to services that replaced your regular phone service, like Vonage, Lingo and AT&T Callvantage. With this latest change, other VoIP programs could be subject to fees for the VoIP portion of their service.
This is an absurd definition, given that most people use services such as Skype, Yahoo! Messenger, etc. to supplement their regular phone service. In addition, programs such as Skype can also be used for text-based instant messaging, which is not subject to the USF. Finally, the FCC's jurisdiction is limited to the USA, and many calls (even calls placed in the USA) could traverse an international Internet path.
It seems highly unlikely that applying the USF to services such as Skype or Windows Live Messenger would be enforceable. Let's hope that government regulation doesn't stifle technological innovation and adoption.
There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)