The FCC ruled against state regulation of the fledgling VoIP (voice over IP) market today. The specific ruling was against the State of Minnesota regulating Vonage, but the result will likely forestall regulation by other states as well. This will force states to come to grips with the imbalances in their tax policies with respect to telecommunications since I'm sure it won't be long before the RBOCs are crying "foul." I'll be interested to see what the Utah Legislature does this next session in this area.
In the meantime, enjoy the savings. I've been a Vonage customer for almost two years now and have had a great experience. In fact, I just dropped my second Qwest line in my house in favor of Vonage. I don't really have a good reason for not dropping Qwest altogether. Not only is the base service cheaper, but you also pay fewer taxes, a benefit that will persist thanks to today's ruling. What could be better?
The importance of today's ruling goes beyond lower prices, however. To my mind, the importance of the VoIP market is the innovation that's occuring in the product space. Vonage gives me a full dashboard on my account with the ability to switch phone numbers, add inexpensive virtual phone numbers almost anywhere in the country that ring on my main line, and so on. For the first time, we have the opportunity for real competition in telecommunications and the innovation that such competition spurs. That's why today's FCC ruling is a big win for consumers, even if they don't realize it yet.