Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

California Demands Licensure For VoIP Providers

timothy posted about 11 years ago | from the extortionate-troglodytes dept.

The Internet 265

muonzoo writes "Looks like California will be wrangling up the VoIP companies and mowing them down. Or, at least licensing them. CNET has a story about state legislators' push for all VoIP companies in the state to carry a Telephone Operator License. CNET also has a quick blurb about Vonage and how they have recently started charging customers a 'Regulatory Recovery Fee.' Ugly stuff for a young industry." Here's our earlier post about Vonage charging the regulatory recovery fee.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Here's a link (4, Informative)

Sir Haxalot (693401) | about 11 years ago | (#7104850)

to the same story on ZDNet [] .

Re:Here's a link (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7105169)

"and thats why we dont let Airline companies build airports."

So true. Sigh.

She doesn't need a licence... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7104852)

How can BSD [] be dying when it has a mascot [] like this?! Linux needs to get its act together if it's going to compete with the kind of hot chicks [] and gorgeous babes [] that BSD has to offer!

You just can't take Linux [] seriously when its fronted by losers [] like these. You Linux groupies need to find some sexy girls like her [] ! I mean just look at this girl [] ! Doesn't she [] make you hard? I know this little hottie [] floats my boat! This guy looks like he is about to cream his pants standing next to such a fox [] . As you can see, no man can resist this sexy [] little cock teaser [] . Even this old bearded Unix guru is apparently unable to take his eyes off her [] !

With sexy chicks [] like the lovely Ceren you will have people queuing up to buy open source products. Look! This guy can't get in there fast enough with her [] in the doorway! Come on, you must admit she [] is better than an overweight penguin [] ! Don't you wish you could get one of these [] ? Join the campaign for more cute [] open source babes [] today!

Re:She doesn't need a licence... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7104905)

Macs are awesome.

Re:She doesn't need a licence... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7105012)

Shiny. Red. Vinyl.

shit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7104856)


Operator license = fees and taxes (4, Insightful)

r_glen (679664) | about 11 years ago | (#7104869)

Yet another not-so-subtle attempt at increasing state revenue.
Stay away from my internet, dammit!

Re:Operator license = fees and taxes (2, Informative)

PerlGuru (115222) | about 11 years ago | (#7104965)

I'm a vonage user and recently (a week ago, or the week before) received am email message indicating that they were lowering thier rates by $5, which they did. Vonage seems like a great company to me. I had difficulties getting ahold of support when we first went with them (about a year ago) but they have grown now. I haven't, however needd to call support since then.

Re:Operator license = fees and taxes (1, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | about 11 years ago | (#7105138)

"Yet another not-so-subtle attempt at increasing state revenue."

There was a story on the news last night that another big company is leaving Portland (OR) to move to Nashville citing that it's more business friendly. That basically translates as "lower taxes". Other companies here have moved up to Vancouver WA, about 10 miles north. So, in effect, Portland's rising taxes are pushing the businesses that support the economy aay.

You know, I watched Arnie talk a little bit about California, and he made a point that the solution is to cut the spending, not raise the taxes.

Gotta say, if I were in Cali, I'd be paying a lot of attention to that guy. At the very least, I hope he creates ripples over here.

Internal VoIP Included? (4, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | about 11 years ago | (#7104872)

What if i do VoIP totally inside my company. does this sort of garbage effect me as well?

what about software suppliers.. ( both commercial and OSS )

etc etc.

( and no i didnt read it.. link didnt come up here )

Re:Internal VoIP Included? (4, Insightful)

Quarters (18322) | about 11 years ago | (#7105042)

Do you have to pay any telephone operator regulatory charges now?

Do you sell your VoIP services to end users?

If you answered yes to either/both of those, then you probably are affected. If you're not a VoIP provider then I doubt you have anything to worry about.

I don't see this as as big a deal as the submittor of the article does. If a company is a telephone provider, regardless of the trasmission mechanism used, then they should have to play using the same set of rules/regulations as the other telephone providers.

Re:Internal VoIP Included? (1)

JVert (578547) | about 11 years ago | (#7105218)

What about msn voice chat?

What about when msn voice works on smartphones?

Re:Internal VoIP Included? (2)

0x0d0a (568518) | about 11 years ago | (#7105292)

Exactly. This is unenforceable and stupid, made by folks trying to adapt old-media rules to the Internet to keep old business models afloat. You *cannot* sanely enforce this -- if you want to do something equivalent but reasonable, your only option is a tax on Internet data as a whole.

*God*, I hate people trying to legislate the Internet. I wish I had a list of "good" tech politicians (the EFF oughta provide this) to support. That Rick what's-his-name from Virginia that keeps hitting Slashdot seems to have pretty pro-tech views, for instance.

Bullshit (5, Interesting)

eln (21727) | about 11 years ago | (#7104880)

Just because VoIP involves voice, that does NOT mean it's the same as telephone service. The monopolistic nature of telephone service (only one company can realistically have lines in a given area, particularly in the "last mile") makes heavy regulation and regulatory fees necessary. VoIP does not suffer from this physical limitation to competition, and thus any number of VoIP providers can exist in any area. This is yet another blatant attempt of government to cash in on an emerging technology.

Re:Bullshit (1, Insightful)

Quarters (18322) | about 11 years ago | (#7105118)

And how is that VoIP transmission getting into your house? I'd assume it's on those same cables that cause the physical limitation to competition you are talking about.

If the VoIP transmission is coming across a telephone or cable company's lines I can see why they would want the VoIP companies to have to play by the same rules.

Triple Bullshit on you (5, Insightful)

muckdog (607284) | about 11 years ago | (#7105196)

You are already paying tax and regulatory fees for your cable and DSL lines. Why should you have to pay them again for VoIP?

Re:Triple Bullshit on you (2, Informative)

zipwow (1695) | about 11 years ago | (#7105311)

Even more, why should you have to pay them again to people who don't own the lines?

If VoIP is the way to go, leave it unregulated, and let the phone companies do it instead of their regular phone service. They can become providers of general connectivity instead of sound in a can.

What's standing in the way of that? Isn't that a better solution anyway?


Re:Bullshit (1)

drakaan (688386) | about 11 years ago | (#7105233)

Are you saying he's not already paying a phone company that's charging him regulatory fees for the lines you mentioned? the VOIP companies are already paying charges for the physical lines/numbers that *they* use. Now you're going to make them pay for the same lines that the customer's local phone company is already paying for. I'm gonna have to side with the original poster, and call bullshit. If you can prove that the phone company can't provide the same service, then I'll consider your opinion.

Re:Bullshit (1)

reinard (105934) | about 11 years ago | (#7105289)

Yes, the same lines that are already regulated, and that I'm already paying about 20 different taxes on. Why do you think it makes sense to take a service that's superimposed on that and tax (and regulate) it again? Are you going to agree with 'virtual stamps' for emails next? After all, they are doing the same thing as the postal office - right?

The much bigger issue is that just because something is VoIP, does in no way whatsoever mean that it's equivalent to a phone line. If the VoIP company used a wireless connection to your house in a public frequency range to provide a service that is equivalent to a phone line, you may have a point. Short of that, this is over-regulation and double taxation, and will by all means stifle an emerging technology.

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7105255)

looking outside I see one phone line and one cable line serving my neighborhood. looks to me like they still own "the last mile."

Re:Bullshit (2, Interesting)

Shalda (560388) | about 11 years ago | (#7105276)

I'll have to disagree with you here. The issue, as many states now seem to see it, is that at some point VoIP no longer travels over IP. A call originating on IP eventually meets up with the Plain Old Telephone System, wherein any number of regulations apply. The government is not trying to "cash in", they're trying to make everyone play by the same rules. That's pretty much what government does or mostly should. As a libertarian, I think it's appropriate that Vonage be held to the same standards (and fees) as everyone else. Of course, as a libertarian, I also think most of those standards and fees shouldn't exist in the first place, but that's a fight for another day.

Now, there is an argument to be made for the fact that Vonage can't actually verify the physical location of a caller. However, they are using California area codes and California billing addresses, so it's pretty realistic to mandate a California telephone operator's license. As for fees, there's also an argument that there maybe ought to be a different schedule since they're not using traditional land lines. However, I suspect this is an issue cellular providers have long since addressed.

Just wait for the Taxinator to get in office... (4, Funny)

warpSpeed (67927) | about 11 years ago | (#7104891)

When Arrrnold gets in office, this will all get taken care of :-)

*ducks, and runs for life...*

Re:Just wait for the Taxinator to get in office... (2, Insightful)

NightSpots (682462) | about 11 years ago | (#7105038)

With any luck, your off-hand joke will be reality.

California doesn't need any more taxes, we need to cut spending. That isn't going to happen with Davis, et al in power. Arnold or McClintock are the only ones who have expressed any interest in cutting spending.

Cut spending where? (2, Insightful)

burgburgburg (574866) | about 11 years ago | (#7105297)

Since neither Arrnold nor McClintock are willing to enumerate where they'd cut spending, perhaps you'd like to.

Re:Just wait for the Taxinator to get in office... (2, Insightful)

Yohahn (8680) | about 11 years ago | (#7105282)

If you believe that, I've got some swampland in Florida that I want to sell ya.

No, really!!

Who makes the laws in California?
How is being the executive going to reduce programs?

Indicative of the business environment in Cal. (2, Insightful)

NightSpots (682462) | about 11 years ago | (#7104894)

This is quite indicative of the business environment in california, and a perfect example of why the recall is (1) going forward, and (2) going to replace Davis with a Republican who's not afraid to protect business.

6 more days til the vote.

Not Just California though (1)

w.p.richardson (218394) | about 11 years ago | (#7105034)

California (for better or worse) tends to lead the country in many matters. With this regulation, they open the door for other states to do the same thing, then the feds will get involved.

It's curious to me how people will applaud regulation when it comes to consolidation of media assets, yet they howl when there is a fee tacked on to their VoIP bill. These are both functions of regulations - it's OK when it stops you, but God forbid it ever touch me! Fairly hypocritical.

Re:Indicative of the business environment in Cal. (1)

Tim (686) | about 11 years ago | (#7105208)

"This is quite indicative of the business environment in california, and a perfect example of why the recall is (1) going forward, and (2) going to replace Davis with a Republican who's not afraid to protect business."

You know, you're absolutely right. With a Republican in office, California will finally be able to support some successful businesses and leap forward into the modern age! I can hardly wait!

Re:Indicative of the business environment in Cal. (2, Insightful)

driftingwalrus (203255) | about 11 years ago | (#7105299)

Someone who's not afraid to *protect* business? Good god man, have you any idea what you're saying?! The DMCA was passed to protect business! Every copyright term extension has been to protect business! I say business has enough protection - what about protecting people for once? How about the people of Bhupal, India? Dow(who bought out the old Union Carbide plant) seems pretty well protected, but who's protecting the people who have to deal every day with a toxic landmine?

Makes sense to me..... (1, Interesting)

Kenja (541830) | about 11 years ago | (#7104898)

Why shouldn't VOIP providers be required by law to follow the same rules as traditional phone serve companies? These rules (amongst other things) protect the consumer from fraud, illegal wire taps and ensures a degree of privacy.

Re:Makes sense to me..... (3, Informative)

edstromp (522727) | about 11 years ago | (#7105027)

Because the laws and such were originally defined with the understanding that there would be a monopoly on telephone services (or at least the line into your house).

That is no longer the case. Especially with the internet, as you can get a connection by cable, dsl, satelite, wi-fi, fm, etc... It's a free market. Regulation (at least in this sense) is no longer necessary.

And becides does it make sense to charge a company in NJ for this? All they have are customers in other states. They don't own any property or goods outside of their centraly located servers... which don't reside in your state.

Re:Makes sense to me..... (2, Insightful)

smackjer (697558) | about 11 years ago | (#7105035)

How do extra taxes/fees protect us from wiretaps and fraud, and ensure any privacy?

Re:Makes sense to me..... (1)

DEBEDb (456706) | about 11 years ago | (#7105064)

protect the consumer from fraud, illegal wire taps

Ah, they protect people from Herr Ashcroft and
company? Well, then, I, for one, welcome our
new licensing overlords.

Spannish-American war telephone tax? (1)

emil (695) | about 11 years ago | (#7105084)

Some telecommunications taxes have been around for a long, long time. Do you think that we should just plop them down on top of TCP/IP? I don't.

Can I interest you in the Brooklyn Bridge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7105125)

I have a very special deal for you and you alone. I am presently offering for sale to you, the Brooklyn Bridge at the unheard of low cost of $1,000,000.

As you already know this bridge is heavily used and could generate massive revenue if you wished to charge a toll for crossing it. But, you would also be protected from fraud, illegal wire taps and your privacy would be assured.

I'm sure that you won't be able to pass up this great offer and I wait patientlt for the delivery of your cheque.

Re:Makes sense to me..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7105129)

VoIP in the form in which it is used today is an interim solution. The transformation from voice into IP packets will move into consumer electronics, at which point VoIP is exactly the same as anything else over IP, network-wise. Users will be able to tunnel it through VPNs. In general, there is no reason why this kind of data should be any more fraud-free, private and untapped than other data. If there is need for regulation, it should apply to all network operators, not just telephone companies.

Re:Makes sense to me..... (1)

lobsterGun (415085) | about 11 years ago | (#7105137)

Why shouldn't VOIP providers be required by law to follow the same rules as traditional phone serve companies?

\How about, beacuse I (as a person who pays to have a DSL line run to my house) already conform to the existing telephony regulations and pay all taxes and fees. By regulating and taxing my VOIP service I'm doubly regulated and doubly taxed.

Re:Makes sense to me..... (Good Point, but) (1)

Dave21212 (256924) | about 11 years ago | (#7105193)

Interesting point, but nowadays fraud is ignored (eBay [] , PayPal [] ), there is (almost) no such thing as an illegal wiretap [] , and privacy [] is an anachronism.

Re:Makes sense to me..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7105213)

because they ain't the same technology and / or service .. DUH!

Re:Makes sense to me..... (1)

bizcoach (640439) | about 11 years ago | (#7105278)

Why shouldn't VOIP providers be required by law to follow the same rules as traditional phone serve companies?

The problem is that these legislators want to apply a telephone operator licences thing that was designed for a now-past era when telephone companies had natural monopolies.

They should make some new rules which make sense for companies which make a buck from offering some kind of communication service via the internet, and then apply the same tule also to traditional telephone companies - there's no reason why companies which use some particular style of technology should be discriminated against.

Re:Makes sense to me..... (1)

warpSpeed (67927) | about 11 years ago | (#7105305)

What makes you so sure that the VoIP providers are not providing these protections already? It is not in thier interest to have customers be victims of fraud.

They should not have to follow the same rules as the telcos, because they are not telcos. They do not have a fixed cable plant to maintain, nor do they have a monopoly on the local market. They also are not promising 100% uptime either. They are proving you with a _portable_ internet service that lets you take your phone number with you that is not dependant on the local telco.

The VoIP providers are providing a competative service to consumers via an new service delivery route that is not dependant on a single supplier for thier infrastruture. And more power to them!

What you are seeing is (for lack of a better word) innovation at its best. These providers are being creative in bringing you a service. Why start to tax them to death before they can even get going.

How long until they start taxing your web surfing traffic? What is the difference between one data packet and another?

It is a half assed tax.

Software-only (1)

interiot (50685) | about 11 years ago | (#7104902)

Are software-only VoIP providers required to pay also? The article is a little light on the details. This is clearly the first step for charging extra for specific kinds of data that differ by nothing other than what they're used for.

i just don't get it (1)

mantera (685223) | about 11 years ago | (#7104904)

why is regulation necessary?

Re:i just don't get it (1)

NightSpots (682462) | about 11 years ago | (#7104940)

It's not necessary.

It's an attempt to get money without needing 2/3 of the vote.

In california, Democrats hold about 60% of the state assembly, which means they need 3 or 4 republicans to vote for a 'tax' increase. But, if you call it regulation, you need only a simple majority, which they have easily. It's entirely designed to raise revenues, has nothing to do with regulating anything.

Re:i just don't get it (2, Insightful)

N7DR (536428) | about 11 years ago | (#7105136)

why is regulation necessary?

It isn't, if you don't mind calls that don't have guaranteed quality, calls that are insecure, calls that may be tapped, no guarantee that you can port your number to another service, no guarantee that a 911 call will go through, no ability for a 911 dispatcher to determine your location, no ability for the operator to break into your call when someone needs to reach urgently, etc., etc., etc.

While we slashdot-type people can make a reasonable decision as to whether we really want all this stuff (and hence can decide rationally whether to pay for it), is it really likely that the typical consumer is really going to understand that this service is different from a regular landline telephone? After all, with some of these services, he's going to be using the same telephone that he's been using for years -- so he's going to expect it to work the same.

Yes, I hate regulation too. But if this stuff is going to be marketed as a replacement for regular telephone service, then it had better provide what the typical consumer expectes from his telco. (On the other hand, if it's marketed clearly just as a kind of "don't you dare depend on this for anything; I'm just pretending to be a telephone but I'm not one really" service, then you're right: it shouldn't be regulated.)

Voice IM? (4, Interesting)

moehoward (668736) | about 11 years ago | (#7104912)

What about things like Voice IM? The standards for defining telephony are pretty loose. I talk to people (video conference, voice chat...) over IM all the time via Yahoo and Windows Messenger.

Seems odd to single it out because the lines already exist. I thought that the phone companies were regulated in large part because of the necessity of having only one line per house, rather than 20 providers digging up your town.

Don't most people already pay these access charges in one way or another via ISPs or other downstream providers.

I suspect that the politicians are much more stupid than we assumed. And I mean that.

Re:Voice IM? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 11 years ago | (#7105061)

.. afaik/iwts(i would think so) the line is drawn when the user can access 'normal' phone service from the voip service(of course, if you weren't doing that wtf do you need the voip company for anyways).

which kinda makes it logical for them to be under the same taxation as normal phone companies, otherwise normal phone companies could just replace one part of the line with transparent to the user voip and claim it's a voip service and ditch the taxes too(hint, afaik most phone companies already route phone calls as ip traffic of some kind).

so, 'taxation is bad for young industry' and all that blabla, it's not really a young business.. just new companies doing old business. one could argue though that there's no need for such taxation on voice-over-anything-connecting-the-phone-system (but then again, the money has to come from somewhere.. if you're not intrested in bankrupting the state and fucking up everything).

i don't have much use for voip service anyways.. and i'd think there's not too much takers for it around here anyways(everybody has a cellular phone, and if you really do shitload of talking to just a few people there's gsm operator billing plans to do that very cheaply)

Re:Voice IM? (2, Insightful)

argmanah (616458) | about 11 years ago | (#7105077)

Seems odd to single it out because the lines already exist. I thought that the phone companies were regulated in large part because of the necessity of having only one line per house, rather than 20 providers digging up your town.

Don't most people already pay these access charges in one way or another via ISPs or other downstream providers.

I suspect that the politicians are much more stupid than we assumed. And I mean that.
They aren't stupid, they are just trying to wrangle as much for themeselves as they can out of new technologies.

What they fail to realize is that this is the Internet age. The location of a company hardly matters any more. If Yahoo chooses to spin off their VoIP division and move it to Arizona as a subsidiary, the end user wouldn't even notice.

Being the first state to tax something Internet related is a great way to drive businesses out of your state.

Re:Voice IM? (1)

Mantorp (142371) | about 11 years ago | (#7105093)

I started using Skype [] last week, the sound quality in my experience blows the Voice IM clients away. They claim to be developing a way of calling regular phones as well.

It's about tax revenue (0)

dnotj (633262) | about 11 years ago | (#7104919)

Not about the technology. Here, take more of my money, my kids don't need to eat so much crap from McDonald's anyway. I'm waiting for the "fat tax". Can it be that far off?

Re:It's about tax revenue (1)

The Lynxpro (657990) | about 11 years ago | (#7105134)

Not about the technology. Here, take more of my money, my kids don't need to eat so much crap from McDonald's anyway. I'm waiting for the "fat tax". Can it be that far off?

Try the early 90s in California under Governor Pete Wilson. The Governor and the Legislature tried just about every conceivable way of coming up with revenue to fix the budget deficit then. And one of them was the "snack tax." What later killed the snack tax was the crazy system of defining what constituted a snack in the case of things like muffins. It was even more ridiculous than the *standards* of judging voter intent with the hanging chads in Florida during the 2000 Presidential Election fiasco. So I guess it goes to show you are behind the times by a good ten years!

Oh, and back in early 2002, a State Senator here in California tried to slap a tax on soft drinks in order to increase revenue but also to discourage children from drinking so much soda, especially from vending machines located in and/or near schools. They also tried to apply a sin tax on magazines such as Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler, etc. No word on if Maxim, FHM, or any of the others would've received the same treatment (getting "Wal-Mart'ed")...

Re:It's about tax revenue (0)

dnotj (633262) | about 11 years ago | (#7105304)

Colorado had the "snack" tax or a form of it. Same idea, standard sales tax was charged on food purchases at convenience stores. BTW, food is not subject to sales tax in Colorado.

The reason I left Colorado is that it was getting to be too much like California. And yes, I'm behind the times in Cali, by choice, atleast 15 years I'd have to guess.

Also, by "FAT TAX", I meant an extra cost for every gram of fat in a package of food. Go to Mcdonalds, buy a Whopper, it has 279g of fat, pay an "extra" 27.9c or something.

California (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7104925)

Why do people in Claifornia like taxes so much?

It seems to me a normal person would not ask "please raise my taxes, thank you".

Why do you people enjoy getting fucked in the ass?

Re:California (1)

NightSpots (682462) | about 11 years ago | (#7104993)

There's one party in california raising taxes: Democrats.

There's a reason there's a recall right now: the tax paying citizens are tired of paying taxes.

There's a large part of california that pays no taxes (ie: all of the immigrants making minimum wage, and people who don't work, but rather sit on welfare), and they're perfectly happy seeing taxes go up and up, because they (supposedly) get "more services", and it doesn't (directly) cost them anything. Of course they vote democrat. There's also the leftist crowd (those who vote on single issues such as pro-environment, pro-abortion, pro-gun-control, regardless of the rest of the issues) that push the democrats into the majority, and allow this nonsense to continue.

The rest of us pay for it out the ass, but there's not enough of us to do much.

Re:California (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7105062)

There's a reason there's a recall right now: the tax paying citizens are tired of paying taxes.
There's also the leftist crowd (those who vote on single issues such as

Um, and voting on the single issue of taxes is not?

Re:California (1)

NightSpots (682462) | about 11 years ago | (#7105109)

It's not the single issue of taxes, it's not even the single issue of money in general.

It's taxes, high spending, and illegal raising of "fees".

It's giving licenses to illegal immigrants.

It's pandering to special interests (which increases spending, which increases taxes)...

It's reverting to 'bilingual education' rather than english immersion in order to separate mexicans from the rest of the state.

There are LOTS of problems in california right now. The money issue is just the one that gets people to vote.

Re:California (2)

Pxtl (151020) | about 11 years ago | (#7105176)

Umm, actually, its not the taxes, its the debt thats causing the recall. After all, every dittohead I've heard that's screaming for Davis' heart is because he lied about the deficit. Not the taxes.

Re:California (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7105001)

We don't. That's why we're recalling our asshole governor next week.

Re:California (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7105142)

You know that San Francisco is in California right?

Maybe they can answer your last question for you :-)

The need for regulation (1)

bizcoach (640439) | about 11 years ago | (#7104926)

As long as only very few people used voice-over-IP, there was clearly no need to regulate. Any problems with voice-over-IP telephone would affect only the small percentage of people who use it, but not the economy as a whole.

When a technology becomes mainstream so that a big portion of the economy depends on it, or the privacy of a large part of the polulation depends on it, then it needs to be regulated.

Re:The need for regulation (1)

MlBruehlly (307883) | about 11 years ago | (#7104974)

" When a technology becomes mainstream so that a big portion of the economy depends on it, or the privacy of a large part of the polulation depends on it, then it needs to be regulated. "

Oh, you mean like the Internet...?

Re:The need for regulation (1)

bizcoach (640439) | about 11 years ago | (#7105066)

Oh, you mean like the Internet...?

Yes. There should be laws with some teeth to properly punish those who would intercept or re-route internet traffic which was not meant for them. Verisign comes to mind...

This is good (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7104928)

People in this country need to pay more and *much* higher taxes to support progressive social programs and to pay for hunting down terrorists and enforcing the gun bans and laws. Those who disagree are probably extremists who listen to and read the filth put out on the radio and internet by such kooks as Michael Ruppert and Alex Jones.

This is great! (1)

FreeLinux (555387) | about 11 years ago | (#7104930)

If you are AT&T, MCI, SBC or some other LEC/CLEC. If however, you are just some regualr Joe it means, no phone discounts for you!

Anyone in doubt (1)

rnd() (118781) | about 11 years ago | (#7104931)

Anyone who is in doubt about what Gray Davis has done to California need look no further. Excessive regulations harm all industries (not just growing/developing ones).

Vonage fees? (2, Insightful)

EvilStein (414640) | about 11 years ago | (#7104952)

Vonage also lowered the monthly fee, too.

I *really* don't want my VoIP service to wind up with more than 6 different taxes like my old Pacific Bell service did.
I pay PUC/etc taxes on my internet connection already. I really don't want to be double-dipped for my VoIP service.

taxing the internet? (1)

guacamolefoo (577448) | about 11 years ago | (#7104956)

Could there be a "no taxing the internet" test case in the works as a result of this?


This is stupid (2, Insightful)

smackjer (697558) | about 11 years ago | (#7104957)

Will IM clients like Yahoo Messenger, AIM, etc, which allow you to talk to someone using VoIP be regulated the same way, and be on the same fee schedule? This is another case (like the RIAA) of technology rendering certain cash-cow business models obsolete. These industries and the FCC/government (via tax revenue and fees) are accustomed to raking in cash for providing a service whose infrastructure is not only outdated but insufficient in many cases. I think for the first time in history we are seeing capitalism getting in the way of progress.

Re:This is stupid (1)

Symbha (679466) | about 11 years ago | (#7105060)

Obsolete? That's hyperbole.

AT&T is in the midst of upgrading their junk to voip in their core.

This is just a way for the encumbents to keep the new guy down long enough for them to get entrenched, again.

Re:This is stupid (1)

smackjer (697558) | about 11 years ago | (#7105105)

If they need to resort to anticompetitive practices like raising the barriers to entry, I think that's a strong case that their business model is obsolete. I would compare this with saying that everyone who uses public transit to commute to work still has to pay the tolls that would have applied if they drove on the highway.

Re:This is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7105280)

If you think that capitalism is to blame here, you are very confused about what it means.

Which really isn't surprising because large organizations that survive by legislation would like you to believe that they're good capitalists. WRONG. Capitalism is all about letting the market decide the winner. Not about buying enough corrupt government officials to get laws passed that prop up an obsolete business model and keep you in business long after the market would have gone on to better things.

No... what we're seeing here is progress being hindered by government. And I think you'll concede that there's nothing novel about THAT.

what do you epxect from california? (1, Flamebait)

Horny Smurf (590916) | about 11 years ago | (#7104995)

California is a bastion of tax and spend. Consider that there is not one Republican elected to a statewide office, and they are a minority in the legislature. The democrats pander to the hispanics ... who vote based on how illegal immigrants are treated. Resulting in welfare benefits and drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. Add on the myriad of voter-propositions that dictate how much money is spent on education, placing limits on property yaxes, etc, and the only way for gov't to run is increased taxes, often falling on businesses.

I moved to CA in the early 90s to catch the internet-dream in its youth. I moved back to the midland before the bubble broke because the writing was on the wall: California faces a bleak future. Fact: CmdrTaco is gay..

Re:what do you epxect from california? (1)

stratjakt (596332) | about 11 years ago | (#7105068)

My favorite line from the Davis apologists is the one about how all those illegals "contribute to the economy", working in fields or whatever.

I'd California's current situation proves that all that untaxed income from being payed under the table does nothing but hurt real business and citizens who have to pick up the cost of all these social programs with higher taxes.

It's not like illegal field workers are big spenders.

Oh well. If California was the size (economically and politically) of Rhode Island noone would give a rats ass. The sad thing is, what happens there affects the whole country.

Re:what do you epxect from california? (1)

pmz (462998) | about 11 years ago | (#7105291)

The sad thing is, what happens there affects the whole country.

California is still the fifth largest economy in the world. The democrats screwing it up affects everyone.

Re:what do you epxect from california? (1)

SirGeek (120712) | about 11 years ago | (#7105098)

California is NOT the only state that limits their taxe rates on property taxes.

Mass has a law that was named Proposition 2 1/2 .

It limits taxes (other than sales tax and income tax) to no more than 2.5 % of the value. Meaning that Rates are typically 25 per 1000 for value ( on houses and vehicles ). How do they get around this limit ? They increase the evaluation of the home so that instead of earning 2500 on a 100,000 house, they re-evaluate the house to 125, 000 and increase their revenue to 3125 without anything new. They get an instant 25 % increase in tax base.

Re:what do you epxect from california? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7105172)

Here Here, Tucson is doing this right now

They cap property taxes and the keep saying that my house has increased in value 10% a year for the past five years.

That being said my house is still taxed less than what I paid for it but in two more years that will not be the case.

Re:what do you epxect from california? (1)

crow (16139) | about 11 years ago | (#7105220)

You totally misunderstand how Massachusetts' Prop 2 1/2 works.

Towns are allowed to raise property taxes by 2.5% per year without an override vote. However, if property values change, the per-$1000 tax rate also changes to keep the amount of tax paid the same (on average). Hence, if house prices in town double, my taxes stay the same unless my house's value tripples.

So this becomes a huge problem for home owners when a $100,000 house suddenly becomes a $250,000 lot based on the tear-down value of the land for new construction. Outside of that case, the tax rates are reasonably fair. (Though I'm not convinced that property taxes are a good idea in general, but that's another debate.)

Boy o boy (2, Informative)

stratjakt (596332) | about 11 years ago | (#7105000)

California's governors sure do know how to drive business out-of-state, don't they?

My VoIP phone is ringing. It's Ahnold. He says "Hasta la vista, baby bells!"

Why isn't there good peer-to-peer voice over IP? (1)

Animats (122034) | about 11 years ago | (#7105017)

Vonage sells a handset that plugs into an Ethernet jack. It's a client that talks only to their servers. Why hasn't someone else done this, but minus the servers? This is, after all, truly a peer to peer application. All you need is some way to find people, a problem that the "file sharing" community seems to have solved adequately.

Re:Why isn't there good peer-to-peer voice over IP (2, Interesting)

kwerle (39371) | about 11 years ago | (#7105132)

There are various IM clients that do this.

I use ichat AV [] .

Because Apple is a CA company, and they host part of the ichat solution, it will be interesting to me to see how/if this affects them.

Vonage is NOT P2P (4, Informative)

justMichael (606509) | about 11 years ago | (#7105152)

With Vonage you can call ANY phone number you want, not just some other VoIP phone.

And you don't get a "handset" you get a Cisco ATA186 [] that you plug any phone you want into.

It talks to their servers becasue at some point it has to get injected back into the POTS network as an analog call.

This was on NPR this morning (1)

pmz (462998) | about 11 years ago | (#7105033)

and all I could think was "Here is a promising industry coming to fruition, and, now, the government and the legacy phone companies want to fuck it over. Holy flaming shit on a stick."

Re:This was on NPR this morning (1)

Symbha (679466) | about 11 years ago | (#7105097)

The legacy companies will be in the same business.

EVERYONE will upgrade their networks to VOIP. It makes sense. The same paradigm as stoplights (switched network) versus stop signs (circuit network.) You can simply move more stuff around in a switched/ip network.

Regulation is just their way to buy longevity to their monopoly. Pay off some politicians, and kill the up and comers while you buy yourself time.

Seems fair for commercial VOIP providers ... (1)

hattig (47930) | about 11 years ago | (#7105039)

... to follow the same regulations as non-VOIP providers r.e. telephony.

It shouldn't affect ad hoc setups as far as I can see (it is only data) though. It might affect larger scale free services though, like AIM/MSN voice chat.

Re:Seems fair for commercial VOIP providers ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7105312)

Yeah, well, okay. And if I break your legs then it would only be fair for me to break your neighbor's legs too.

Not that it would be right. But then we'd do better to be fair than right... right?

Maybe not.

VoIP tax is going to happen. (2, Insightful)

jbottero (585319) | about 11 years ago | (#7105048)

John Leutza, director of the California Public Utilities Commission's telecommunications division. "They sure look like a phone company in nearly every regard," he said in an interview Tuesday. "This will be California's policy, going forward."

Regulators are typically of the same general mind set as monopolists, and in an earlier day they would probably all have worked for railroads. But while VoIP offers some of the same services as telephone, there are significant differences in the technology, as pointed out in many posts here. I don't think the current laws will support the CPUC position, but just like chumming for fish, where there is money to be had, the politicos will be swarming.

VoIP has a big potential to cut into the bottom line of some DEEP POCKET telephone companies, and you can bet these people's money will grease the pockets of the politicos in California.

ring ring, VoIP companies, California is calling.. (1)

The Lynxpro (657990) | about 11 years ago | (#7105052)

...And the Golden State definitely needs some more revenues, excuse me, "licenses" to help fix our ongoing fiscal problems. Perhaps those companies should send some campaign contributions to some of the candidates going into October 7th... They better not call though...

Typical (3, Insightful)

thefirelane (586885) | about 11 years ago | (#7105069)

With Gray Davis' days numbered, the California legislature is cranking out as many liberal laws as possible. The Wall Street Journal has an article [] about it on the front page.

This legislation serves two real purposes: winning over many Democratic supporters and interest groups and giving Democrats ammo to fire against Arnold when he repeals them. Note, the last reason is fairly typical of any political group.... Clinton signed environmental legislation that was extremely harsh, knowing that if Bush won he'd have to repeal them which would let Democrats call him anti-environmental (If Gore won, no one would care about him repealing the laws, as it didn't fit into the stereotype)

Recent CA laws passed include:
  • granting illegal immigrants the right to driver's licenses
  • enacting the nation's toughest financial-privacy and antispam measures
  • expanding the rights of gay domestic partners
and coming up: requiring businesses with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance or pay into a state pool to purchase the coverage


Re:Typical (1)

pmz (462998) | about 11 years ago | (#7105267)

granting illegal immigrants the right to driver's licenses

They don't need US driver's licenses, because a mutual agreement with Mexico would be sufficient.

enacting the nation's toughest financial-privacy and antispam measures

Making doing business in California harder than ever.

expanding the rights of gay domestic partners

The fact that the government has the gall to legislate lifestyles is appalling.

Politicians suck (okay, most politicians suck).

morons demand end to phonIE payper liesense scams (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7105079)

talk is cheap? no, i mean free? as in speech? as in whois doing the talking? as in all the phonIE ?pr? ?firm? hypenosys you can .consume?

on corepirate nazis/stock markup felons/the walking dead, va lairIE's whoreabull PostBlock(tm) devise, etc...

whatever works...

that's right, after the walking dead finish exterminating themselves, & sadly enough, some of us, it won't take long to clean this cesspool of greed/fear execrable up.

we're calling it the planet/population rescue program (formerly unknown as the oil for babies initiatve).

the Godless wons are helping by continuing to show where their hearts lie.

what's wrong with folks selling their kode? if it causes convenience, & interoperates with all the other kode on the planet, we say, no harm, no foul, so long as you fail to employ gangsterious/felonious practices to asphyxiate the 'competition'. sabotaging your free version of anything is a tad dastardly. if there's value added, without FUDging up the compatability, we'll pay. same with music. no more gouging dough though.

fortunately, mr stallman et AL, etcetera, is now offering comparable/superior software, to the payper liesense spy/bug wear feechurned models, in almost every circumstance. there'll be few, if any more softwar billyonerrors, as if there's a need for even won. tell 'em robbIE. you are won of the last wons whois soul DOWt, right? .asp for va lairIE's whoreabull pateNTdead PostBlock(tm) devise?, used against the truth/to protect robbIE's payper liesense stock markup bosses/corepirate nazi 'sponsors'. yuk.

back on task.

what might happen to US if unprecedented evile/the felonious georgewellian southern baptist freemason fuddite rain of error, fails to be intervened on?

you already know that too. stop pretending. it doesn't help/makes things worse.

they could burn up the the main processor. that would be the rapidly heating planet/population, in case you're still pretending not to notice.

of course, having to badtoll va lairIE's whoreabully infactdead, pateNTdead PostBlock(tm) devise, robbIE's ego, the walking dead, etc..., doesn't slow us down a bit.

that's right. those foulcurrs best get ready to see the light. the WANing daze of the phonIE greed/fear/ego based, thieving/murdering payper liesense hostage taking stock markup FraUD georgewellian fuddite execrable are #ed. talk about a wormIE cesspool of deception? eradicating yOUR domestic corepirate nazi terrorist/gangsters will be the new national pastime.

communications will improve, using whatever power sources are available.

you gnu/software folks are to be commended. we'd be nearly doomed by now (instead, we're opening yet another isp service) without y'all. the check's in the mail again.

meanwhile... for those yet to see the light.

don't come crying to us when there's only won channel/os left.

nothing has changed since the last phonIE ?pr? ?firm? generated 'news' brIEf. lots of good folks/innocents are being killed/mutilated daily by the walking dead. if anything the situations are continuing to deteriorate. you already know that.

the posterboys for grand larcenIE/deception would include any & all of the walking dead who peddle phonIE stock markup payper to millions of hardworking conservative folks, & then, after stealing/spending/disappearing the real dough, pretend that nothing ever happened. sound familiar robbIE? these fauxking corepirate nazi larcens, want us to pretend along with them, whilst they continue to squander yOUR "investmeNTs", on their soul DOWt craving for excess/ego gratification. yuk

no matter their ceaseless efforts to block the truth from you, the tasks (planet/population rescue) will be completed.

the lights are coming up now.

you can pretend all you want. our advise is to be as far away from the walking dead contingent as possible, when the big flash occurs. you wouldn't want to get any of that evile on you.

as to the free unlimited energy plan, as the lights come up, more&more folks will stop being misled into sucking up more&more of the infant killing barrolls of crudeness, & learn that it's more than ok to use newclear power generated by natural (hydro, solar, etc...) methods. of course more information about not wasting anything/behaving less frivolously is bound to show up, here&there.

cyphering how many babies it costs for a barroll of crudeness, we've decided to cut back, a lot, on wasteful things like giving monIE to felons, to help them destroy the planet/population.

no matter. the #1 task is planet/population rescue. the lights are coming up. we're in crisis mode. you can help.

the unlimited power (such as has never been seen before) is freely available to all, with the possible exception of the aforementioned walking dead.

consult with/trust in yOUR creator. more breathing. vote with yOUR wallet. seek others of non-aggressive intentions/behaviours. that's the spirit, moving you.

pay no heed/monIE to the greed/fear based walking dead.

each harmed innocent carries with it a bad toll. it will be repaid by you/us. the Godless felons will not be available to make reparations.

pay attention. that's definitely affordable, plus, collectively, you might develop skills which could prevent you from being misled any further by phonIE ?pr? ?firm? generated misinformation.

good work so far. there's still much to be done. see you there. tell 'em robbIE.

as has been noted before, lookout bullow.

Free Market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7105113)

This is a great thing! After all these VoIP companies follow suit and jump the California ship like other business is doing, maybe the voters in California will stop choosing Socialist idealogues for leaders.

Protect Free Markets!

New vs. Old (2, Insightful)

PingXao (153057) | about 11 years ago | (#7105120)

It's the same old story for the pols. They've always regulated and taxed telephone companies, i.e. those who transport sound from one phone to another. This is no different to them. They can't distinguish between completely different types of technology. The Internet is "new", so they have thus far avoided taxing the 'net because they've "never done that before". Nationwide, they even prohibited state sales tax from being collected on purchases over the internet. The politicians really are clueless. Enjoy it while it lasts because once they get a bite of the apple it will be all over and net taxes will be everywhere. Trying to reason with regulators over whether or not VoIP should be taxed and regulated the same way as traditional phone companies is like pissing into the wind.

A good example ....... (1)

big-giant-head (148077) | about 11 years ago | (#7105149)

Of why business is leaving california faster than ever. If they keep this up CA will become just a bunch of Hollywood Stars and some farms and vineyards in the valley........

wow (1)

nege (263655) | about 11 years ago | (#7105165)

Interesting that one of the cornerstones of a civilized society is the ability to quickly and effectivley communitcate in a meaningful way. Yet our society seeks to stifle this with licences, fees, and administrvia that continue to errode our communication capabilities...for the sake of what...profit?

how will this impact Longhorn? (1)

The Lynxpro (657990) | about 11 years ago | (#7105179)

One of Microsoft's big aims with Longhorn was to offer VoIP support to every office cubicle via the operating system. Will Microsoft's DRM come into play to enable this?

(Dirty) Business As Usual (1)

mariox19 (632969) | about 11 years ago | (#7105182)

I wonder how much of this has to do with lobbying from the telcom industry. No doubt politicians are salivating at the prospect of more taxes, but aren't the traditional telephone companies worried over the "unfair" competition?

Sadly, there are two ways of doing business in the American economy: out do the competition, or bury them through political pull. VoIP threatens the status quo in the industry, and I'm guessing somebody from the telcoms is whispering in the ear of the politicians and greasing their palms to shackle VoIP with the same regulations they work under -- even though the rationale for those regulations applies even less to VoIP.

Okay, I'm offering no hard evidence, other than history and how this has played out time and time again in other industries. I say that's enough that we should all be on the lookout dirty pool.

(Make all the foil hats and X-Files jokes you want!)

My bad (1)

mariox19 (632969) | about 11 years ago | (#7105198)

And I promise to proofread more carefully next time!

Is this double taxation? (1)

frkiii (691845) | about 11 years ago | (#7105288)

The "recovery" fee is a tax.

Isn't the internet already run on telecom lines, with the exception of direct satellite and cable?

I use DSL at home, and pay taxes on lines.

Isn't this like taxing twice for the same thing?



Why don't they tell the regs to get bent? (1)

Dynastar454 (174232) | about 11 years ago | (#7105294)

So what if Vonage or some such comany moved to Canada? Besides possilbe higher connection fees for the data -> POTS connection is there any way US regulators could do anything to them? Someone enlighten me.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?