The Business Council strongly supports this legislation, which would direct the Public Service Commission (PSC) to refrain from regulating the rates, terms and conditions on services delivered over Internet technologies such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). The legislation does not prohibit the assessment of E-911 fees, telecommunications relay service fees, or federal or state Universal Service Fund fees on VoIP service.
The rates, terms and conditions of VoIP service, which has been offered in New York State since the early 2000's, are currently not regulated. VoIP service is an optional service a customer may elect to take as an alternative to basic telephone service. Telephone service providers in New York operate under “certificates of public convenience and necessity” that require them to offer basic wireline telephone service throughout their territory at tariff rates regulated by the PSC, regardless of the platform it is delivered over. Nothing in this legislation changes that requirement.
This bill will establish a framework that will foster VoIP innovation and growth in New York. VoIP brings increased efficiency, reliability, and functionality to voice communications. It is particularly good for consumers living in rural upstate New York who have yet to enjoy the benefits of broadband and voice competition. This bill could help rural consumers to benefit from voice competition, making broadband more affordable, and allow rural communities to connect to a new world of information and job opportunities. A number of states including New Jersey, Ohio, and Florida among others have already passed similar legislation.
For these reasons, the Business Council requests the passage and enactment into law of S.7664.