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Liability Issues in a VoIP Environment

Business Communications Review –

The effects of 911 and wiretap regulations could put an added bite into VOIP costs.

Voice over IP (VOIP) applications for enterprise customer networks have significant advantages in terms of features and functions, as well as attractive cost characteristics, which will continue to drive enterprise customer networks to VOIP for the next several years, despite some lingering regulatory uncertainty about how VOIP “fits” into the world of traditional telecommunications services.

Much of the controversy over VOIP has centered on relatively obscure issues-whether VOIP should be classified as a regulated “telecommunications service” or an unregulated “information service”; whether it can be regulated by the state public utility commissions or only by the FCC;whether the service will be accepted in other countries so that it can be used economically for international traffic; whether it is subject to the same state and federal taxes that apply to traditional communications services; and whether VOIP providers will be required to pay state and federal universal service fees and access charges, which could raise the cost of providing, and thus the price for using, the service. (For more on these topics, see this issue, pp. 10-12.)

But VOIP technologies also introduce some very practical legal issues that enterprise customers should keep in mind as they deploy the technology, to reduce the risk of unpleasant financial surprises down the line.


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